Skip to main content

Full text of "Sonya Kovalevsky: A Biography"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 

B 860984 


^*ARl«^^ * 













* ■ \ 

.'-.•-'j ;;' 


AH rigkis r€S€9V€d. 



I. girlhood's dreams, nihilistic marriage . I 











■ V~_.-*-~ ■ . - 






XV. THE END 155 




IMMEDIATELY on receiving the news of Sonya 
Kovalevsky's sudden and unexpected death, I felt 
that it was a duty incumbent upon me to continue, 
in one form or another, the reminiscences of her early 
life, which had been published in Swedish under the 
title of " The Sisters Rajevsky." 

There were many reasons wluch made me consider 
this my special duty ; but the chief one was the fact, 
that Sonya had always entert^ned a feeling that she 
would die young, and that I should outlive her ; and 
over and over again she made me promise to write her 

Introspective and self-analysing as she was to an 
extraordinary degree, she was accustomed to dissect 
minutely her own actions, thoughts and feelings ; both 
for her own benefit, and, during the three or four 
years in which we were together almost daily, for mine 
also. She always tried to classify her ever-changing 
moods and disposition according to a given psycho- 
logical system. This habit of self-criticism was so 
strong that she often unconsciously transformed the 




actual facts. But, however keen and at times un- 
merciful her self-analysis might be, there was blent 
with it the natural impulse to self-idealisation. She 
saw herself as she wished to be seen ; hence the 
picture she drew of herself was in many details unlike 
what others found her to be. Sometimes she judged 
herself more harshly, sometimes more leniently, than 
others judged her. 

Had she, as she intended, continued the reminiscences 
of her childhood by writing the whole history of her 
life, the picture would have been the one which she 
outlined and filled in for me in our many long, psycho- 
logical conversations. 

Unfortunately she cannot complete this work ; which 
would undoubtedly have been the most remarkable 
autobiography in the world of literature. 

It falls, then, to my lot to draw, in faint outline, the 
picture of Sonya's life, feeling that, limned by her own 
hand, it would have been deeply and intensely imbued 
with her own personality. 

From the first I knew that the only way in which 
I could succeed in my task, would be to write, so to 
speak, under her suggestion. I felt I must endeavour 
to identify myself with her as I used to do while she 
still lived. I must strive to be again what she so often 
called me, her ** second /." I must depict her, as far 
as possible, in the light in which she showed herself to 
me. Meanwhile I could not decide to publish the 
reminiscences which I began to write down shortly 
after Sonya's death, and I allowed a year to pass 
without doing so. During that year I conversed with 


many of her friends, both of former and of recent 
date. I corresponded with those who were absent in 
foreign lands whenever I could find them ; and thus 
sought to supplement my own memory in all things 
concerning Sonya's external life. I have quoted from 
my correspondence all that seemed important as casting 
light upon her character, but always, of course, from 
the point of view <I have indicated : that of eluci- 
dating her own interpretation of herself. 

As will be seen, I have not sought to sketch the 
life-history of my friend from an objective point of 
view. But is the objective standpoint necessarily the 
true one, when we deal with the interpretation of 
character ? 

Many may contest the justice of my estimate and 
interpretation ; many may judge Sonya's actions and 
feelings in quite another light : but this in no way 
concerns me, from my point of view. 

The data which I have submitted are as accurate as 
I can make them. It is only when such data seem to 
have been slightly distorted by imagination, that I have 
failed to adhere closely to Sonya's guidance. 

When I met Henrik Ibsen last summer, and told him 
that I was writing a memoir of Sonya Kovalevsky, he 
exclaimed — 

" Is it her biography in the ordinary meaning of the 
word which you intend to write ? or is it not rather a 
poem about her ? " 

*' Yes,'* I answered ; " that is to say, it will be her 
own poem about herself as revealed to me." 


" That is right ! " he replied. " You must treat the 
subject romantically.*' 

This remark strengthened and cheered me, en- 
couraging me to follow out the plan which had pre- 
sented itself to me. 

Let others, who can, describe Sonya objectively. I 
cannot attempt anything but a subjective delineation of 
my own subjective conception of her, derived from 
the vividly subjective interpretation which she herself 
gave me. 


Duchess of Cajanello. 




girlhood's dreams, nihilistic marriage. 

SONYA was about seventeen years of age when her 
parents took her with them to pass a winter in 
St. Petersburg. Just at that time, in the year 1867, 
a strong movement was making itself felt among the 
thinking portion of the rising generation in Russia. 

This movement especially afiected the young girls 
of Russia, and may be described as an ardent striving 
for the freedom and progress of their fatherland, and 
for the raising of its intellectual standard. 

It was not a Nihilistic, scarcely a political, movement. 
It was an eager striving after knowledge and mental 
development ; and it had spread so far and wide, that 
at that moment hundreds of young girls belonging to 
the best families betook themselves to foreign uni- 
versities in order to study. 

But as parents in general opposed such aspirations in 
their daughters, girls had, in order to effect their pur- 
pose, recourse to strange tactics, which were, however, 
characteristic of the times. They went through the 
form of marriage with young men devoted to the same 
ideas which they held sacred, and in this manner, as 


married women, they escaped from parental authority, 
and were enabled to go abroad at the first opportunity. 

Many of the Russian women-students in Zurich, 
who were afterwards recalled by an Imperial ukase 
(being suspected of Nihilistic tendencies, although they 
only thought of studying in peace), were married to 
men who had accompanied them to the universities 
and by mutual agreement had then left them free to 
pursue their studies. 

This kind of coterie, with its abstract and ulterior 
motive, was very popular at the time in the circles in 
St. Petersburg to which Sonya and her sister belonged. 
Indeed, it seemed to Sonya, and to most of her friends, 
a far higher conception of the marriage state than the 
low and commonplace idea of a union between two 
persons for the mere satisfaction of their passions, or 
the purely selfish happiness of what is generally termed 
a " love-match." 

According to the ideal which these young people 
cherished, personal happiness was altogether a sub- 
ordinate consideration ; the sacrifice of self for the 
general weal alone was great and noble. Study and 
self-development were the means by which these young 
people hoped to infuse new vigour into the father- 
land they loved so dearly and to assist its struggle 
from darkness and oppression into light and freedom. 

This was the passionate longing which filled the 
hearts of the daughters of old aristocratic families, who 
hitherto had been educated solely as women of the 
world, or as future wives and mothers. 

No wonder that their parents were unable to under- 


stand them, and were hostile to the symptoms of 
independence and determined rebellion which now and 
again broke through the mysterious reticence with 
which the young treated the old. ** Oh, what a 
happy time it was ! " Sonya would often exclaim, 
when talking of this period of her life. " We were 
so enthusiastic about the new ideas; so sure that the 
present social state could not continue long. We 
pictured to ourselves the glorious period of liberty 
and universal enlightenment of which we dreamt, and 
in which we firmly believed. Besides this, we had 
the sense of true union and co-operation. When 
three or four of us met in a drawing-room among 
older people, where we had no right to advance 
our opinions — a tone, a glance, even a sigh, was 
sufficient to show each other that we were one in 
thought and sympathy. And when we discovered this, 
how great was the inward delight at realising that 
close to us was some young man or woman, whom 
we had never seen before, and with whom we had 
apparently only exchanged some commonplace remark, 
yet whom we found to be devoted to the same ideas 
and hopes, ready for self-sacrifice in the same cause." 

At that time no one noticed little Sonya in the circle 
which gradually gathered around her sister Anyuta, 
who was six years her senior, and the centre of a 
group of friends. Sonya was still a child in outward 
appearance, and it was only through Anyuta's affection 
for her shy little sister, with ** the green-gooseberry 
eyes," that the girl was allowed to be present. How 
brightly those eyes sparkled at every warm and 


enthusiastic word which fell from the older members 
of the circle, though Sonya kept herself in the shadow 
of her more brilliant sister ! 

Sonya admired this sister above all things, and 
believed her to be her superior in beauty, charm, 
talent, and intelligence. But in her admiration lay a 
certain amount of jealousy ; the jealousy which strives 
to emulate its object, not that which belittles and 
disparages it. This jealousy, of which Sonya speaks 
in her reminiscences, was characteristic of her through- 
out her life. She was apt to over-estimate the qualities 
she longed to possess, and the want of which she 
deplored. She was also greatly impressed by beauty 
and charm of manner. These qualities her sister 
appears to have possessed in a far greater degree than 
herself, and her day-dream was to surpass that sister 
in other matters. 

From her childhood, Sonya had always been praised 
for her intelligence. Her natural love of study, and 
her thirst for knowledge, were now seconded by her 
ambition, and by the encouragement she received from 
her master in mathematics. She showed such extra- 
ordinary keenness and quickness of perception, and 
such fertility of origination, that her scientific gifts 
were not to be mistaken. Her father had only per- 
mitted this unusual and " unfeminine " study through 
the influence of one of his oldest friends (himself some- 
what given to mathematics), who had discovered 
Sonya's uncommon aptitude for this science. But at 
the first suspicion that his daughter intended to take 
up the study seriously, the father drew back in dismay. 


Her first shy hints that she wished to go to a foreign 
university were as unwelcome as had been, a few years 
previously, the discovery of Anyuta's authorship. It 
was regarded as a reprehensible tendency towards 
impropriety. Young girls of good family, who had 
already carried out similar plans, were simply regarded 
as mere adventuresses, who had brought shame and 
sorrow upon their parents. Thus, in the homes of the 
aristocracy, there existed two opposing currents ; first, 
the hidden, secret and stifled, but rebellious and intense 
striving, wluch could not be resisted, and which found 
its own outlet like a natural force ; and, secondly, the 
open and genuine conviction, on the parents* side, of 
their right to stem and hold in check, to regulate and 
to discipline, this same unknown and mysterious natural 

Anyuta and one of her friends, who was also full of 
the desire to study abroad, and likewise prevented from 
doing so by her parents, now came to a definite deter- 
mination. Either of them, it mattered little which, 
was to make one of the ideal and platonic marriages 
before alluded to. They hoped that this arrangement 
would give both of them their liberty. They thought, 
if one of them were married, the other would obtain 
permission from her parents to accompany her friend 
abroad. Such a journey would no longer appear in an 
objectionable light, but might be regarded as a mere 

Sonya was to accompany her sister. She was so 
entirely Anyuta's shadow, that it was utterly impossible 
to imagine the one without the other. The plan once 



made, the first step was to find the right man to help 
them to carry it out. 

Anyuta and her friend Inez reviewed their circle of 
acquaintances, and their choice fell on a young professor 
at the university, whom they knew only slightly, but 
of whose honesty and devotion to the common cause 
they were convinced. So, one fine day, the three girls, 
Sonya as usual bringing up the rear, went to see the 
professor in his own house. He was seated at his 
writing-table when the servant introduced the three 
young ladies, whose presence there somewhat astonished 
him, for they did not belong to the circle of his more 
intimate lady friends. He rose politely and asked 
them to be seated. 

Down they all three sat in a row on the sofa, and a 
moment's awkward pause followed. 

The professor sat in his rocking-chair facing his 
visitors, and looked first at one and then at the other of 
them, — at the fair Anyuta (tall, slim, with a peculiar 
charm in her svelte and graceful movements), whose large 
and lustrous eyes, dark and blue, were fixed upon him 
fearlessly, and yet with a certain indecision, — at the 
dark Inez, stout and clumsy, with an eagle nose, and 
an intrepid look in her prominent eyes, — at the fragile 
Sonya, with her abundant curls, her pure, correct 
features, innocent childish forehead and strange eyes, 
full of passionate inquiry, of wonder, and of attention. 

Anyuta at last commenced the conversation as they 
had intended. Without the least sign of timidity she 
asked the professor if he were willing to free them 
by going through the marriage ceremony with one of 


them, accompanying them to a university either in 
Germany or Switzerland, and there leaving them. In 
another country, or under other circumstances, a young 
man could hardly listen to such a proposal from a 
handsome girl without, in his answer^ showing some 
foolish gallantry, or expressing a touch of irony ; but 
in this case the man was equal to the occasion. Anyuta 
had not been mistaken in her choice. The professor 
answered, quite seriously and coldly, that he had not the 
least inclination to accept such a proposal. And the 
girls? — One would suppose that they must have felt 
terribly humiliated by this flat refusal. Such, however, 
was not the case. Feminine vanity had nothing to do 
with the matter. The question of personally pleasing 
the young man had never entered into their project. 
They received his refusal as coolly as a young man 
might do whose friend had not accepted an invitation 
to travel abroad with him. So they all went ofF, 
shaking hands with the professor at the door, and did 
not meet him again for many years. They felt sure 
he would not abuse the confidence they had placed 
in him, for he belonged to the secret brotherhood 
which, though it was not a society in the ordinary sense 
of the word, still united in one indissoluble bond the 
hearts of all those who were devoted to the same cause. 
Some fifteen years later, when Madame Kovalevsky 
was at the height of her celebrity, she met the professor 
in St. Petersburg society, and jested with him about the 
rejected oflFer of marriage. 

Just at this time one of Anyuta's friends committed 
the crime of a love-marriage. How they despised her. 


and bewailed her lot ! Sonya's heart more especially 
swelled with anger at such a mean failure of their 
ideals. Even the newly married couple were as shame- 
faced before their young friends as though they had 
committed a veritable crime. They never dared to 
talk to them about their wedded bliss, and the wife 
even forbade her husband to show the least sign of 
aflection in their presence. 

Meanwhile an unexpected circumstance occurred in 
Sonya's life. Anyuta and Inez, who still kept to their 
original plan, not allowing themselves to be defeated 
by their first rebufF, had chosen another young man 
as their liberator. He was only a student, but an 
exceptionally clever one, who also desired to go to 
Germany to complete his studies. He was of good 
family, and generally considered to be a rising man. 
They therefore hoped that, if it came to pass, neither 
Inez nor Anyuta's parents would have any serious 
objection to urge against the marriage. This time the 
proposal was made in a less formal manner. Once, 
when they met, as they often did, at the house of 
mutual friends, Anyuta took the opportunity of putting 
her proposal to the young man during the course of 
conversation. He replied, much to her astonishment, 
that he quite agreed to the suggestion, with, however, 
a slight variation in the programme. He would like to 
marry Sonya. This declaration caused much anxiety 
to the three conspirators. How could they induce 
Sonya's father to allow her, hardly more than a child, 
to marry, while her elder sister, already twenty-three 
years of age, remained unmarried ? They knew that if 


a moderately suitable match had been proposed for the 
latter, her father would not have been obdurate. In 
fact, Anyuta gave him much anxiety by her capricious 
and uncertain temperament. She was, moreover, of an 
age at which she ought to have been married. Certainly 
the student Kovalevsky was young, but he had before 
him a promising future, and no doubt he would have 
been accepted willingly enough for the eldest daughter. 
But with regard to Sonya, it was altogether a different 

The proposal now made to the father was absolutely 
refused without appeal ; and a return to the country 
place of the family, Palibino, was immediately arranged. 

The girls were in despair at returning to Palibino, 
for this meant the surrender of the hopes and interests 
which had been to them the very breath of life. It 
was a return to a prison, but without the charm of true 
martyrdom in a great cause. Indeed a real imprison- 
ment would have been easier for them to bear than 
the unpoetic banishment with which they were now 

The timid Sonya took a bold resolution. The tender 
young girl^ who could not bear an unkind glance or a 
word of disapproval from those she loved, became at this 
critical moment like steel. For though of a delicate, 
sympathetic, and afFectionate nature, she had within 
her a vein of sternness and flint-like inflexibility, which 
came to the fore at any crisis. She who, dog-like, 
would nestle up and fondle any one who smiled kindly 
upon her, could, when roused to battle, trample every 
feeling under foot, and wound in cold blood those 


on whom, a moment before, she had lavished the 
warmest tokens of affection. 

This arose from her intensity of will. For her will was 
so strong, that it became an over-mastering force, even 
when it had to do with a purpose entirely unconnected 
with feeling. What she desired, what she wished, she 
desired with such painful intensity that she was almost 
consumed by it. Now she wanted to leave her parents' 
home, and continue her studies, cost what it might. 

One evening there was to be a family gathering at 
her father's house. In the afternoon her mother had 
gone out to choose flowers for her table, or new music 
for her pianoforte. Her father was at his club, and 
the governess was helping the maid to decorate the 
drawing-room with plants. 

The girls were alone in their room, and their pretty 
new dresses were lying ready for dinner. They were 
never allowed to go out of doors without being accom- 
panied by the footman or the governess. But Sonya 
seized upon this moment, when every one was occupied, 
to slip out of the house. Anyuta, who was in the con- 
spiracy, accompanied Sonya downstairs, and stood at the 
door until she was out of sight. She then ran back to 
her room with a beating heart, and began to put on her 
light blue dress. 

It was already twilight, and the first gas-lamps were 
just being lighted. Sonya had drawn down her veil 
and pulled her Russian hood well over her face. She 
went hesitatingly down the broad empty street which 
she had never before traversed alone. Her pulses were 
beating high with the feverish excitement which always 


accompanies and lends enchantment to great moments 
in the lives of romantic people. Sony a felt herself the 
heroine of the romance now opening. She, the little 
Sonya, who had hitherto been nothing but her sister's 
shadow ! but the romance was of quite a different 
kind to the love-tales of which literature is fiiU, and 
which she herself despised. 

For this was no lover's tryst to which Sonya's light 
feet were speeding so rhythmically. It was no passionate 
love that made her heart beat, as, breathless with fright, 
and with foolish horror of the darkness, child that she 
was, she sped up the dark flight of steps to a dilapidated 
house in a miserable street. She rapped three nervous 
little taps on a certain door, which opened so quickly 
that it was clear the young man who presented himself 
had been on the watch, and was expecting her. He 
immediately led her into a simple study, where books 
were piled up in every direction, and where a sofa had 
been evidently emptied of them to receive her. 

The young man was not quite an ideal hero of 
romance. His lai^e red beard and prominent nose 
gave him, at first sight, an ugly aspect. But, once you 
met the clear glance of his deep blue eyes, you found in 
them such a kindly, intelligent, and honest expression, 
that they grew most attractive. His manner to this 
young girl, who showed such strange confidence in 
him, was quite that of an elder brother. The two 
young people sat down excitedly on the sofa, listening 
for angry footsteps on the stairs. Sonya started up, 
turning red and white, each time she thought she 
heard a movement in the corridor. 


Meanwhile her parents had returned home, but 
only just in time — as the girls had well calculated — 
to dress for dinner before their guests arrived. They 
therefore did not notice Sonya's absence until all the 
guests were assembled in the dining-room, and were 
about to sit down to table. 

" Where is Sonya ? " they both asked in the same 
breath, turning to the pale Anyuta, who seemed more 
self-conscious than usual, with her defiant glance, and 
nervous, expectant air. 

"She is out," she answered in a low voice, the 
trembling of which she could not conceal, and averting 
her eyes from her father. 

" Gone out ? What does she mean by it ? And 
with whom ? " 

" Alone. There is a note for you on her dressing- 

The footman was sent to fetch the note, and the 
company sat down to dinner amid a deathlike silence. 

Sonya had calculated her blow better than she 
perhaps knew. It was more cruel than she could 
have dreamt. In her childish defiance, and with the 
selfishness of youth, which knows neither mercy nor 
consideration, understanding so little the pain inflicted, 
she had wounded her father in his most tender point. 
In the presence of her nearest and dearest relatives, 
the proud man was forced to swallow the humiliation 
of his daughter's wrong-doing. 

The note contained only these words : " Father, 
forgive me, I am with Vladimir, and beg you will no 
longer oppose our marriage." 


General Krukovsky read these lines in silence. He 
rose immediately from the table, murmuring an excuse 
to those who sat near him. Ten minutes later Sonya 
and her companion, who had been listening more and 
more intently, heard the angry steps for which they 
had watched. The door, which had not been locked^ 
sprang open without any previous knock, and General 
Krukovsky stood before his trembling daughter. 

Just before the close of the dinner the General and 
his daughter, accompanied by Vladimir Kovalevsky, 
entered the dining-room. 

** Allow me," said the General, in an agitated voice, 
" to present to you my daughter Sony di'sfiancL'' 



IN the foregoing words Sonya used to relate to me 
the most dramatic incidents of her peculiar marriage. 
Her parents forgave her, and shortly after, in October, 
1868, the marriage was celebrated at Palibino. The 
newly wedded couple went immediately to St Peters- 
burg, where Sonya was introduced by her husband to 
circles interested in political events ; and thus one of her 
great desires was fulfilled. 

A lady, who afterwards became her most intimate 
friend, relates, in the following words, the impression 
which Sonya made on her new acquaintances. 

** Among these women, married and unmarried, who 
were also deeply interested in politics — ^women who 
were more or less worn out and harassed by life — Sonya 
Kovalevsky made a peculiar impression. Her childish 
face procured her the name of *the little Sparrow.' She 
was just eighteen, but looked much younger. Small, 
slender, with a round face and short curly chestnut hair, 
she had very mobile features. Her eyes, especially, 
were exceedingly expressive — sometimes bright and 
dancing, sometimes dreamy and full of melancholy. 



Her whole expression was a mixture of childish inno- 
cence and deep thought. She attracted every one by the 
unconscious charm which was her principal characteristic 
at this period of her life. Old and young, men and 
women, all were fascinated by her. Natural in manner, 
without the least trace of coquetry, she never seemed to 
notice the homage lavished upon her. She took no 
pains about her personal appearance or dress, the latter 
being as simple as possible, even showing a tendency to 
slovenliness, a trait which remained with her to the last." 

In connection with this peculiarity, the same friend 
relates the following characteristic little incident : 

" I remember, shortly after our acquaintance began, 
how once, when I was talking enthusiastically to Sonya 
about something which interested us both — in those 
days we never could talk otherwise than enthusiastically 
— she occupied herself the whole time in pulling off the 
trimming of her left sleeve, which had become unsewn ; 
and when at last she managed to tear it all off, she threw 
it on the ground as if it were of no value and she was 
only too glad to be rid of it." 

After having lived during six months in St. Peters- 
burg, the young couple left for Heidelberg in the spring 
of 1869 ' Sonya to study mathematics, and her husband 
to study geology. After they had matriculated there, 
they went to England, where Sonya had the opportunity 
of making acquaintance with the most celebrated persons 
of the day, George Eliot, Darwin, Spencer, Huxley, 
and others. 

In George Eliot's diary, published in Mr. Cross's 
biography of his wife, we find the following remarks, 


dated October 6, 1869: **On Sunday an interesting 
Russian pair came to see us, M. and Mme. Kovalevsky ; 
she, a pretty creature with charming modest voice and 
speech who is studying mathematics (by allowance 
through the aid of KirchhofF) at Heidelberg : he, amiable 
and intelligent, studying the concrete sciences apparently, 
especially geology, and about to go to Vienna for six 
months for this purpose, leaving his wife at Heidel- 
berg ! " 

This plan was not immediately realised, and Vladimir 
stayed for one term in Heidelberg with his wife. Their 
life at this period is described by the friend already 
quoted, who had, we may remark in passing, received 
through Sonya's intervention, her parents' permission to 

" A few days after my arrival in Heidelberg, in 
October, 1869, Sony a and her husband arrived from 
England. She seemed very happy and pleased with 
her journey. She was as fresh, rosy and joyous as when 
I first saw her. But there was an increased fire and 
sparkle in her eyes. She felt within her the develop- 
ment of new vigour and energy in the pursuit of the 
studies she had barely begun. Her serious aspirations 
did not prevent her, however, from finding enjoyment 
even in the simplest things. I well remember our walk 
together the day after their arrival. We had wandered 
about in the neighbourhood of the town, when we came 
to a level road, we two young girls began to run races 
like children. Oh ! how fresh are those memories of 
the early days of our University life ! Sonya seemed to 
me so very happy, and that in such a noble way ; yet, 


when in after years she spoke of her youth, it was 
always with a deep bitterness, as though she had wasted 
it. At such times I remembered those first happy 
months in Heidelberg ; those enthusiastic discussions 
on every kind of topic, and her poetical relationship to 
her young husband, who in those days adored her with 
quite an ideal love, without any mixture of less noble 
feeling. She seemed to love him in the same way, and 
both were innocent of those lower passions which 
usually go by the name of love. When I think of all 
this, it seems to me that Sonya had no reason to com- 
plain. Her youth was really filled with noble feelings 
and aspirations, and she had at her side a man, with 
his feelings completely under control, who loved her 
tenderly. This was the only time I have known 
Sonya to be really happy. A little later, even a year 
later, it was no longer quite the same. 

" Immediately after our arrival at Heidelberg, the 
lectiires began. During the day we were all three at 
the University, and the evenings were also devoted to 
study. We had rarely time, during the week, to take 
walks, but on Sundays we always made long excursions 
outside Heidelberg, and sometimes we went to the 
theatre at Mannheim. 

" We had very few acquaintances, and very seldom 
called on any of the professors' families. From the 
first Sonya attracted the attention of her teachers by 
her extraordinary talent for mathematics. Professor 
Konigsberger, and the celebrated scientist KirchhofF, 
whose lectures on practical physics she attended, both 
spoke of her as something quite marvellous. Her fame 



spread so widely in the little town that people some- 
times stopped in the streets to look at the wonderful 
Russian. Once she came home and told me laughingly, 
how a poor woman, with a child on her arm, had 
stopped and pointed to her, saying aloud to the child, 
* Look ! look ! there is the girl who is so diligent at 
school ! * 

" Retiring and bashful, and almost awkward in her 
manner to her fellow-students and professors, Sonya 
always entered the University with downcast eyes ; she 
never spoke to her companions, if she could avoid it, 
during the time of study. Her behaviour enchanted 
the German professors, who always admire bashfulness 
in a woman, especially in one so young and charm- 
ing, a student moreover of so abstract a science as 
mathematics. This bashfulness was not in the least 
put on, but entirely natural to Sonya at that time. I 
remember very well when she came home one day 
and told me how she had discovered an error in the 
demonstration which some pupil or professor had 
made on the blackboard during the lesson. He got 
more and more confused and could not find out where 
the mistake lay. Sonya told me how her heart beat 
when at last she had the courage to rise and go up to 
the blackboard, pointing out where the error lay. 

" But our life ci trois^ so happy and so full — for M. 
Kovalevsky was deeply interested in all subjects, even 
those which did not touch on science — did not last 

** Sonya's sister and her friend Inez arrived at the 
beginning of the winter. They were both many years 


our seniors. As we had not much room, Kovalevsky 
decided to move, and give up his room to them. Sonya 
visited him very often, constantly spending the whole 
day with him, and they often took walks together 
without us. It naturally was not pleasant for them 
to be surrounded by so many women, especially as 
the two new-comers were not always amiable to- 
wards Kovalevsky. They had their peculiar ideas, 
and thought that as the marriage after all was only 
a formal one, Kovalevsky ought not to have tried to 
give a more intimate aspect to his intercourse with his 
wife. This interference caused irritation, and spoiled 
the good understanding of our little circle. 

"After a term spent thus, Kovalevsky decided to 
leave Heidelberg, where he no longer felt at ease. 
He went first to Jena, and then to Munich. There 
he lived for study alone. He was richly endowed by 
nature, exceedingly industrious, very simple in his 
habits, and with no desire for recreation. Sonya very 
often said that a book and a glass of tea was all that 
he needed to content him. This characteristic was not 
quite pleasing to Sonya. She began to be jealous of his 
studies when she found that they made up for the loss 
of her company. We sometimes went with her to pay 
him a visit, and in the holidays they always travelled 
together. These trips seemed to give Sonya great 
pleasure. But she could not accustom herself to live 
apart from her husband, and she began to worry him 
with continual demands. She would not travel alone, 
but he must come and fetch her and take her where 
she wanted to go. Just when he was most busy with 


his studies, he had to undertake commissions for her, 
and help her in all those trifles which he had of his 
own accord very good-naturedly taken upon his own 
shoulders, but which seemed to worry him now that 
he was absorbed by scientific study." 

When Sonya, later on, recalled her past life, her 
complaint was always ** No one has ever loved me 
truly ; " and if I pleaded, " But your husband loved 
you truly," she would reply, " He loved me only when 
he was with me, but he got on so well without me 
that he could quite well live apart from me." 

It seemed to me a very simple explanation of the 
matter, that he preferred, under the circumstances, and 
busy as he then was with study, not to spend too much 
time near her. But Sonya did not see it in this light. 
She had always, from childhood to her very last hour, 
strange craving for unnatural and strained relation- 
ships ; she wanted to own without being owned by 
any one. 

I believe that in this characteristic lies the clue to 
her life's tragedy. I will again allow myself to quote 
further observations, made by the same friend and 
fellow-student, to show that even in her early youth 
this idiosyncrasy, which became the source of all Sonya's 
inner struggles and suflferings in after life, was already 

" Sonya valued success to a very great degree. 
When she had once an aim, nothing could withhold 
her from its pursuit, and when her feelings were not 
in question she always compassed her end. When her 
heart was concerned, curiously enough, she lost her 


clear judgment. She required too much from those 
who loved her and whom she loved, and thought to 
gain by force what would have been given to her 
spontaneously, had it not been demanded. She had an 
intense yearning for tenderness and intimate friendship. 
She also needed to have some one near her, who would 
never leave her, and was interested in all that interested 
herself ; but she made life unbearable to all who lived 
with her. She was herself too restless, too ill-balanced 
in temperament, to be satisfied with such loving com- 
panionship, although it was her ideal. Her own in- 
dividuality was far too pronounced for her to live in 
harmony with others. Kovalevsky was also, in his 
way, restless by nature ; always full of new ideas and 
plans. It is impossible to say whether these two, both 
so rarely endowed, could ever, under any circumstances 
whatsoever, have lived happily together for any length 
of time." 

Sonya remained two years in Heidelberg, until the 
autumn of 1 8 70, when she went to Berlin to continue 
her studies under Professor Weierstrass' direction. 
Her husband had meanwhile received his doctor's 
degree in Jena, and written a treatise which attracted 
much attention. He thus gained great celebrity and 
became a scientist of importance. 




tonishmenty one day found a young and beautiful 
woman standing before him, asking him to take 
her as a pupil in mathematics. The University 
of Berlin was closed to female students then as now. 
But Sonya's enthusiastic desire to be directed in her 
studies by the man regarded as the father of modern 
mathematical analysis, induced her to entreat him to 
give her private lessons. The professor looked at his 
unknown visitor with a certain amount of incredulity. 
He promised to try her, and gave her some of the 
problems to solve which he had set for his more 
advanced students in mathematics. He was con- 
vinced she would not succeed, and gave the matter no 
further thought. Indeed, her appearance, at the first 
interview, had made no impression on him whatever. 
Badly dressed, as she always was at this period of her 
life, she wore, on this special occasion, a hat which 
quite hid her face, and might have suited a woman 
twice her age. 



Professor Weicrstrass himself told me later, that he 
had no idea at the time either of her extreme youth, or 
of the highly intellectual expression of face which usually 
predisposed every one in her favour. 

A week later she came to him again, saying she had 
solved all the problems. He would not believe her, 
and bade her sit down beside him and go through her 
solutions point by point. To his great astonishment, 
not only was everything quite right, but the solutions 
were eminently clear and original. In her eagerness 
she took off her hat, and her short curly hair fell over 
her brow. She blushed vividly with delight at the 
professor's approbation. He, no longer young, felt a 
sudden emotion of tenderness for this child-woman, 
who was gifted with the intuition of genius in a 
degree he had seldom found among even his older and 
more mature students. 

From that hour the great mathematician was Sonya's 
friend for life, and the most faithful, tender counsellor 
she could have desired. She was received in his family 
like a daughter and sister, and continued her studies 
under his guidance for four years. Most important was 
the influence thus exercised on her future scientific 
activity, which ever after pursued the direction given it 
by Weierstrass. All her scientific writings are appli- 
cations or developments of her master's theses. 

Sonya's husband had followed her to Berlin, but 
left her to live alone there with her friend from 
Heidelberg, visiting her, however, very frequently. 
The relations between them continued peculiar, and 
provoked some astonishment in the Weierstrass family, 


where her husband never showed himself, though his 
wife was on an intimate footing with all its members. 
Sonya never mentioned her husband, nor did she intro- 
duce him to the professor, but on Sunday evenings, 
when she went to Weierstrass (he coming to her once a 
week besides), her husband went to the door when the 
lesson was finished, rang the bell, and told the servant 
to inform Madame Kovalevsky that the carriage was 

Sonya had always been shy about the unnatural rela- 
tions between her husband and herself One of the 
Heidelberg professors used to tell how, when he hap- 
pened to meet Kovalevsky at his wife's house, she 
would introduce him in a vague way as a '^ relation." 

Her friend before quoted says of their life in Berlin : 
" Our life there was even more monotonous and lonely 
than in Heidelberg. We lived all by ourselves. Sonya 
was busy at her problems the whole day long, and I was 
at the Laboratory till the evening, when, after partaking 
together of a hasty repast, we again sat down to work. 
Excepting Professor Weierstrass, who was a constant 
visitor, we never saw any one within our doors. Sonya 
was always in low spirits. Nothing seemed to give her 
pleasure, and she was indifferent to everything but study. 
Her husband's visits always brightened her up, but the 
joy of meeting was clouded by frequently recurring mis- 
understandings and reproaches, though they seemed to 
be very fond of one another, and constantly took long 
walks together. 

" When Sonya was alone with me, she never wanted 
to leave the house, not even for a walk, nor for the 


most necessary shopping, far less to go to the theatre or 
any place of amusement. At Christmas time we were 
invited to the Weierstrasses', who had a Christmas-tree 
in our honour. Sonya was absolutely in need of a dress, 
but could not be induced to go and buy one. We 
nearly quarrelled about this dress, for I would not buy 
it alone. (Had her husband been there, all would have 
been well, for he always looked after her and chose both 
the material and pattern of her dress.) Finally she 
decided on allowing her hostess to choose and order the 
dress, so that she need not stir out of doors about it. 
Her power of endurance when at the most difficult 
mental work, sitting hour after hour immovable at her 
desk, was almost phenomenal. In the evening, when 
she finally put up her papers, she would be so absorbed 
in her own thoughts that she would begin walking 
rapidly up and down the room, often ending in a run ; 
and she often talked aloud to herself, and sometimes 
even burst into laughter. At such times she seemed to 
be altogether beyond earthly things, and to be carried 
away from the world on the wings of imagination. But 
she would never tell me what her day-dreams were 
about. She did not sleep much at night, and, when 
asleep, was always restless. Sometimes she would wake 
suddenly, roused by some fantastic dream, and then 
would frequently ask me to keep awake also. She 
liked to relate her dreams, which were often interesting 
and peculiar. They were generally of the nature of 
visions, and she believed them to be to a certain extent 
prophetic, and certainly they did sometimes prove true. 
" On the whole Sonya had a highly nervous tempera- 


ment. Never quiet ; always having some deeply in- 
volved aim before her, she longed intensely for success, 
yet never have I seen her more depressed than just 
when she had attained some object for which she had 
worked. Reality seemed so poor compared with her 
expectations. While striving to obtain her object she 
was often far from agreeable to others, being intendy 
absorbed in her work. But when depressed and un- 
happy in the midst of success, she aroused quite in- 
voluntarily one's deepest pity. This continual variation 
of light and shadow in her temperament rendered her 
most interesting. But on the whole, our life in Berlin, 
spent in uncomfortable rooms, bad air, and amid un- 
ceasing wearing mental labour, without any interval of 
recreation, was so devoid of pleasure, that I often looked 
back on our early Heidelberg days as on a lost Paradise. 

"When, in the autumn of 1874, Sonya had obtained 
her doctor's degree, she was so worn out, physically and 
mentally, that, on her return to Russia, she could not do 
any work for a long time." 

The want of delight in her work above mentioned 
was peculiar to Sonya when she had any scientific 
labours in hand. She always overdid herself, and in no 
way coxild enjoy life or the work itself ; and thought^ 
instead of being her servant, was her tyrant. At such 
times she experienced none of the joy of creating. It 
was different later on, when she took up literary work. 
This always gave her delight, and put her into good 

Other causes, besides Sonya's overstrain at her 
work, contributed to make her stay in Berlin far from 


agreeable. To begin with, there was her position with 
regard to her husband. The sense of its strangeness 
had been aggravated by the interference of her parents. 
They had visited her several times, had even taken her 
back to St. Petersburg; had found out how matters stood, 
had reproached her for her behaviour, and tried to bring 
husband and wife together. But Sonya would not hear 
of it. Secondly, Sonya was displeased with her isolated 
position. She had already that hunger for a fuller life 
which afterwards consumed her. In her inmost heart 
she was as little as possible the female pedant which her 
manner of life suggested. But bashfulness, or a want 
of practical sense ; the feeling of the strangeness of her 
own circumstances ; the fear of allowing herself to be 
compromised in her lonely position — all conduced to 
the isolation she so greatly regretted when speaking, in 
after life, of her early youth. 

The want of practical knowledge in her friend, too, 
contributed greatly to make their merely material life 
together unbearable. They always chanced on the 
most miserable lodgings, the worst servants, the worst 
food. Once they fell into the hands of a whole gang 
of thieves, who systematically plundered them. They 
had noticed that one of the maid-servants had been 
stealing their things for a long time. When they re- 
proached her, she grew impertinent, and they were 
obliged to dismiss her at a moment's notice. The same 
evening, as they sat alone, having no one to help them 
to make their beds for the night, some one knocked at 
the window, wiiich was on the ground-floor. Looking 
out, they saw a strange woman peering in. They called 


out anxiously to know what she wanted. She replied 
she wanted to enter their service. She impressed them 
disagreeably, but such was their helplessness, that, 
frightened though they were, they engaged her. This 
woman tyrannised over them, and plundered them so 
outrageously, that they had to call in the police before 
they could get rid of her. 

Sonya was, however, very indifferent to the material 
side of life. She barely noticed whether her food was 
good or bad, or if her room was tidy, or whether her 
clothes were in good order or torn. It was only when 
things got to be quite unbearable that she became con- 
scious of them. But, when she had no practical friend 
at hand, this happened pretty often. 

In January, 1871, Sonya was obliged to break off 
her studies with Weierstrass to set forth on a most 
adventurous expedition. 

Anyuta had wearied of her monotonous life at Heidel- 
berg, and had gone to Paris without her parents' permis- 
sion. She wanted to educate herself as an authoress, and 
naturally felt no interest in a circumscribed life with 
Sonya in a student's chamber. She wished to study the 
world and the theatre, and live in literary circles. 

As soon, therefore, as she was free from parental 
control, she definitely took her own way. It was im- 
possible for her to write and tell her father that she was 
living alone in Paris, so she gave full license to her 
desire to live her own life independently, and deceived 
him. She wrote to him through Sonya, so that her let- 
ters always bore the same postmark as those of her sister. 
She originally intended to make but a short stay in Paris, 


and quieted her conscience by the plea that she would 
explain her conduct by word of mouth. 

But she soon drifted into a position and entangle- 
ment from which it was impossible for her to 
extricate herself. Every day she remained in Paris it 
became more difficult to communicate honestly with her 
parents. She linked her fortunes with those of a young 
Frenchman, who later became one of the Communist 
leaders ; and she thus found herself immured in Paris 
during the whole of the siege. 

Sonya was much disturbed as to the fate of her sister, 
and deeply impressed with the responsibility which 
rested on her own shoulders for having abetted her 
secret journey. Immediately the siege was raised, she 
and her husband tried to enter Paris in order to search 
for Anyuta. 

Sonya could never speak of this journey in later 
years without congratulating herself, and marvelling at 
their success in getting into the town right through 
the German army. She and Vladimir wandered on 
foot along the Seine till they came to a deserted boat, 
drawn up upon the shore. Of this they at once took 
possession, and rowed off. But hardly were they at a 
little distance from the shore, than a sentinel saw and 
challenged them. For reply they rowed away with all 
their might, and by good luck, owing to the careless- 
ness and dilatoriness of the sentinel, they reached the 
opposite side, whence, unobserved, they slipped into 
Paris. They thus chanced to arrive there at the very 
commencement of the Commune. 

Sonya had intended, later on, to publish her ex- 


periences during this epoch, but, alas! like so many 
other plans, this lies with her in the grave. Among 
other things she intended to write a novel to be 
entitled '* The Sisters Rajevsky under the Commune." 
In it she meant to describe a night with the ambulance- 
corps, for she and Anyuta served in it. Here, too, 
they found other young girls who had formerly moved 
in their own circle in St. Petersburg. 

While bombs were whizzing round them, and 
wounded men were being constantly brought in, the 
girls talked in whispers of their life in Russia, so 
unlike their present surroundings that it seemed to 
them like a dream. And like a dream, to Sonya, at 
least, like a fairy-tale, were all the strange incidents 
wWch now pressed upon her. She was still at the age 
of intense fervour of feeling, and the events of world- 
wide historic interest that were taking place around 
her impressed her more than the most exciting 
romance. She watched the b,ursting bombs without 
the least trepidation ; they only excited a not unpleasant 
fluttering of the heart, and a secret delight that she 
was in the very midst of the drama. 

For her sister she could at this moment do nothing. 
Anyuta took an active interest in the political dis- 
turbances, and asked for nothing better than to risk 
her life for the man to whom she had irrevocably 
linked her fate. 

Shortly after, the Kovalevskys left Paris, and Sonya 
resumed her studies in Berlin. But after the suppres- 
sion of the Commune, Sonya was again called to Paris. 
This time it was her sister who sent for her, entreating 


her intervention with her father. Anyuta longed for 
his forgiveness, and was anxious that he should use his 
influence to extricate her from the desperate trouble 
into which she had now fallen. The man, for whom 
she had forsaken all, was a prisoner and doomed to 

When one recalls the picture which Sonya has given 
of her father in the memories of her childhood, one can 
easily realise how terrible a blow it was to him to learn 
the whole grim truth of the deception of his children, 
and the fact that his eldest daughter had taken her own 
course in a manner calculated to wound most deeply all 
his instincts and principles. 

Years before, he had been almost out of his mind 
with grief and deep annoyance on the discovery that 
Anyuta had secretly written a novel and had received 
money for it He said to her at the time, " You sell 
your work now, but I am not at all sure that the day 
will not come when you will sell yourself." Strangely 
enough, he was much more gentle on hearing the truth 
now, when his daughter had given him a far more 
terrible cause of grief. Both he and his wife, accom- 
panied by Sonya and her husband, hastened at once to 
Paris, and when Krukovsky met his erring daughter, he 
was most generous and forgiving. His ckughters, who 
knew that they deserved quite other treatment, devoted 
themselves to him from that hour with a tenderness they 
had never before evinced. 

I cannot, alas ! give the whole story of this troublous 
time. General Krukovsky was acquainted with Thiers ; 
he therefore turned to him to procure a pardon for his 


future son-in-law. Thiers answered that no one could 
obtain this favour; but one day, in course of conversa- 
tion, he related, as if accidentally, how the band of 

prisoners, among whom was Monsieur J , would be 

moved the following day to another prison. They 
were to pass by a building in which there was an 
exhibition, and just at an hour when there would be a 
good many people about. Anyuta went to the spot, 
and mixed with the crowd. The instant the prisoners 
appeared, she slipped imnoticed amongst the soldiers 

who surrounded them, and, catching Monsieur J 

by the arm, disappeared with him through the crowd 
into the exhibition. From there they escaped by one 
of the other doors, and reached the railway station 
in safety. 

This tale sounds wild and improbable, but I have 
only been able to write it down as I, and many of 
Sonya's friends, remember it. When people we love 
are dead, how bitterly we regret that we have not 
stored up in memory their least word, noted down 
all the interesting things they have told us. In the 
present case I have all the greater cause for regret, 
because Sonya often s^d to me that I must write her 
biography when she was dead. But who thinks, at 
the moment of confidential talk, that the day may 
come all too quickly when one will stand alone — with 
merely the memory of the living bond which united 
one with the departed ? Who is not inclined to hope 
that the morrow will bring richer opportunities for 
supplying the gaps which so often occur in rapid con- 
versation, when thoughts run on from point to point ! 


In 1874 Sonya received a doctor's degree from the 
Univeraty of Gottingen on account of three treatises 
wUch she had written under the guidance of Weier- 
strass ; and more especially on account of the one 
entitled **Zur Theorie der partiellen DifFercntial- 
gleichungen ** {Crelles Journal^ vol. 80). It is consi- 
dered one of the most remarkable works she ever 
published. She was exempted by special dispensation 
fcom the viva voce examination. The following letter 
to the Dean of the Philosophical Faculty in Gottingen 
shows the characteristic motive which led Sonya to 
crave so rare and exceptional a favour : — 

"Your Honour will graciously permit me to add 
something to the letter in which I present myself for 
admission to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 
your faculty. It is not lightly that I have decided on 
this step, which compels me to forsake the retirement 
in which I have hitherto lived. It is only the wish 
to satisfy my dearest friends which makes me desire 
thus earnestly some decisive test. I wish to give them 
an incontestable proof that, in devoting myself to the 
study of mathematics, I follow the determined bent of 
my nature, and that, moreover, this study is not with- 
out result. It is this which has made me overcome 
my scruples. I have been told that, as a foreigner, 
I can obtain the degree in aisentia, if I can show 
works of sufficient importance, and produce recom- 
mendations from competent authorities. 

"At the same time, I hope your Honour will 
not misconstrue me, if I acknowledge openly that 
I do not know whether I have sufficient aplomb to 



undergo an examen rigorosum^ and I fear that the unusual 
position, and having to answer, face to face, men with 
whom I am altogether unacquainted, would confuse me, 
although I know the examiners would do all they could 
for me. In addition to this, I speak German very 
badly. When I try to speak it, it seems to escape me, 
though, when I am at leisure, I can use it in all my 
mathematical work. My German -is faulty because, 
though I began to speak it five years ago, I spent 
four of those years quite alone in Berlin, never having 
any occasion to speak or hear the language, except 
during the few hours my honoured master devoted 
to me. For these reasons I venture to request your 
Honour kindly to intervene so that I may be ex- 
empted from the examen rigorosumJ* 

This petition, but above all the great merit of her 
work and her excellent testimonials, enabled Sonya to 
gain the rare privilege of receiving a doctor's degree 
without appearing in person. 

Shortly after, the whole family Krukovsky was once 
more united in the old ancestral home at Palibino. 



HOW that family had changed since the days of 
Sonya*s childhood as described in her writings! 
The two young girls who had dwelt in the quiet home, 
dreaming of the strange world of which they were so 
ignorant, met there once more as grown-up women, 
tried and developed by the experiences which each had 
gone through alone. 

Life, for them, had indeed been diflferent from the 
life of which they had dreamed. 

It had, however, been full and varied enough to give 
rise to long conversations round the fire during the long 
winter evenings spent in the large drawing-room, with 
its red damask furniture, the samovar singing on the 
table, its home-like sound mingling with the dismal 
hunger-song of the wolves in the forest without. 

The world beyond these precincts no longer seemed 
to the two girls so vast and immeasurable. They had 
seen it close at hand, and realised its proportions more 

Anyuta, on the one hand, had led a life full of 
excitement, and her craving for emotion had been 



more than gratified. She, at least, no longer indulged 
in such cravings. She was passionately in love with 
the husband who sat beside her, with a weary, satirical 
expression on his face. Nay, she was even jealously 
attached to him, and her life was still so full of excite- 
ment that no extra stimulus was needed. 

Her younger sister had Wtherto lived entirely with 
her brain. She had so completely satisfied her thirst for 
knowledge that she was satiated, and mental work was 
now impossible. She spent most of her time reading 
novels and playing cards, and otherwise sharing in the 
social life of her neighbours, who had no higher or 
more intellectual pursuits. 

Sonya*s greatest joy, at this period of her life, was 
in the change which had come over her father. He 
belonged, as did Sonya herself, to the small class of 
individuals who are able, by sheer force of purpose 
and will, to modify and develop their own characters. 
The harshness and despotism which had been his chief 
characteristics were much subdued by the severe trials 
to which his daughters had subjected him. He had 
learned that no one being can really rule the destiny of 
others by force — not even in the case of a father with 
Ws children. He bore, with a tolerance marvellous in 
one of his nature, the socialistic and radical assertions 
of his Communist son-in-law, and the materialistic 
tendencies of the other son-in-law, the scientific pro- 
fessor. This was the most cherished memory Sonya 
kept of her father, and one which was the more deeply 
impressed on her mind because it was associated with 
the last winter of his life. 


Her father died unexpectedly and without warn- 
ing from heart disease. The blow was terrible to 
Sonya. She had, during the last few months, been 
on terms of tender intimacy with her father, and had, 
indeed, always loved him more than she did her 

Tins mother had a bright and winning nature. 
Every one was kind to her, and she was kind to 
every one. But, just in consequence of this, Sonya 
was little in sympathy with her mother. She fancied 
herself less of a favourite with her than the other chil- 
dren. But her father had always preferred her to the 
others, and, after his death, she felt utterly sad and 

Anyuta had her husband, on whose neck she could 
weep out all her grief. But Sonya had no one to turn 
to for comfort. She had always kept at a distance the 
man whose highest ambition was to be her comfort and 
support. But now this distance seemed to her painful 
and unnatural ; and thus her desire for aflfection induced 
her to overcome her prejudices. During the silent 
hours of sorrow, the barrier between husband and 
wife was broken down. 

During the next winter the whole family went to 
St. Petersburg. There Sonya soon found herself the 
centre of an intellectual circle such as could be hardly 
found elsewhere — a circle alert and wide awake ; 
mentally, so to speak, on the qui vive. Enlightened 
and liberal-minded Russians are, it is generally agreed. 


far more many-sided, freer from prejudice, and broader 
in their views, than other people. 

This was the experience, not only of Sonya, but of 
all who have ever moved in that circle. Ever in the 
van of advanced thought in Europe, and the first to 
discover the dawn of fresh light, these Russians are 
also more enthusiastic, and have a greater faith in 
ideals, than the educated thinkers of other nations. 

In this circle Sonya at last felt herself appreciated 
and understood. 

After five long years spent in severe study, and 
utterly devoid of amusement, there was now to her, 
in the full prime of her youth, something captivating 
and enchanting in the sudden change. All her brilliant 
gifts developed as if by magic, and she threw herself 
heartily into the whirl of intellectual gaiety, with its 
fSteSy theatres, lectures, receptions, picnics, and other 

The circle which now surrounded her was more 
literary than scientific in its interests. With the 
natural longing to be in full sympathy with her 
environment, which was one of Sonya's strongest sen- 
timents, she now threw herself into literary pursuits. 
She wrote newspaper articles, poetry, and theatrical 
criticisms. But her writings were always anonymous. 
She also wrote a novel entitled " Privat-docenten," 
a tale of a small German university town. It was con- 
sidered to show great promise. 

Anyuta, who, during these years, lived in St. 
Petersburg with her husband, now came definitely to 
the fore as an authoress, and with much success ; 


while Vladimir Kovalevsky was busy translating and 
publishing popular scientific works, such as " The 
Birds " of Brehm. 

The l^cy left to Sonya by her father was small, for 
he willed the bulk of his fortune to his wife. But the 
life into which Sonya had plunged demanded a certain 
amount of luxury and style. Perhaps it was this which 
first induced her to indulge in monetary speculations. 
Her husband, who was personally utterly indiflferent to 
luxury, allowed himself to be drawn into these trans- 
actions, for he was of a lively, imaginative, and also 
somewhat of a yielding nature. 

Venture followed upon venture. The Kovalevskys 
built houses, a hydropathic establishment, and extensive 
hothouses in St. Petersburg. They published newspapers, 
launched new inventions of every kind, and for a time 
it looked as though fortune would smile upon them. 
Their friends prophesied a brilliant future ; and in 
1878, when their first child, a daughter, was born, she 
was hailed as a future heiress. 

But, as usual, Sonya had even then premonitions of 
coming evil. One of her friends recalls to mind, that 
on the day on which the foundation-stone of their first 
house was to be laid, Sonya remarked that the occasion 
was spoiled for her by a dream she had had on the 
previous night. 

She dreamed that she was standing on the spot 
where the stone was to be Idd, surrounded by the 
throng assembled to witness the ceremony. Suddenly 
the crowd parted, and she saw her husband in the 
midst struggling with a diabolical being who strove 


to trample him under foot, and who, on succeeding, 
laughed sardonically. 

This dream affected Sonya so powerfully that she 
became depressed and low-spirited for some time ; and 
truly it was a dream which, later on, verified itself in a 
terrible manner. 

When, one after another, these vast speculations 
failed, Sonya's fortitude and energy showed themselves 
in all their greatness. 

She had for a while, it is true, permitted her imagi- 
nation to be fired by the common temptation of using 
her intelligence and creative genius for the acquisition 
of a fortune, but her soul could not long be wedded to 
so paltry an ambition. She was able to lose millions at 
one blow without suffering a sleepless night or acquiring 
a new wrinkle on her brow. She could behold all 
prospect of wealth vanish without one regret. She had 
desired to be rich because life, in all its forms, tempted 
her. Her passionate and imaginative nature made her 
wish for a full experience. But when she found that 
she could not succeed in this, she withdrew at once, 
and summoned up all her energy and fortitude in order 
to comfort her husband. 

Strange to say, this simple-minded man, to whom 
money for its own sake had never been a temptation, 
and who had never been attracted by the advantages it 
could oflfer, had thrown his whole soul into their under- 
takings, and it seemed as if, to his nature, defeat and 
failure were absolutely crushing. Sonya, on the other 
hand, with rare courage, not only bowed to the in- 
evitable, but also threw herself with renewed zeal into 
fresh pursuits. 


She succeeded in averting the impending crisis in 
their finances. She shunned neither effort nor huniilia- 
tion. She went round to the friends who had been 
interested in their ventures, and offered terms which 
satisfied all parties. She thus earned her husband's 
intense gratitude and admiration. Again their fortunes 
seemed secured, but the diabolic being who had terrified 
Sonya in her dream now crossed their path in dread 

An adventurer, with whom Kovalevsky had come 
into contact through his ventures, tried to involve 
him in new and yet more dangerous speculations. 

Sonya, who read character well at first sight, con- 
tracted such an immediate and strong aversion to this 
man, that she could not endure his presence in her 
house. She entreated her husband to break with him, 
and to return to scientific pursuits. But in vain. Vladi- 
mir, in 1 88 1, was made Professor of Palaeontology at 
the University of Moscow, and there he settled with 
his family ; but he could not tear himself away from 
speculation, which now took wilder flights than ever. 
Petroleum springs in the interior of Russia attracted 
his attention. He hoped to gain millions for himself 
while increasing and developing Russian industries. 
He was so blinded by his coadjutor that he would not 
listen to his wife's warnings. As he could not induce 
her to adopt his view of the matter, he refused her his 
confidence, and carried out his ideas alone. This was 
most painful to Sonya, and quite unbearable to a person 
of her character. 

After sorrow had drawn her closer to her hus- 


band, she had done everything to deepen and in- 
tensify their relations to one another. It was her 
nature to give herself up with passionate devotion to 
that which, for the time being, was foremost in her 
life. She also drew marked lines between what was 
important and what was unimportant, and this trait in 
her character made her superior to others of her sex, 
for she never neglected primary for secondary duties, 
and never took a narrow view of life. She could not 
put up with half-heartedness where feelings were con- 
cerned. She would sacrifice everything to secure a 
deep whole-hearted union. She strove to the utmost 
to rescue her husband from the danger she foresaw. 
One of her friends describes her struggles thus : 
" Sonya tried to interest Kovalevsky again in science. 
She studied geology, helped to prepare his lectures, 
and tried to make home-life delightful to him, so 
that he might recover his mental balance. But it 
was of no avail. My notion is that Kovalevsky 
was at that time not in a normal state of mind. 
His nerves had been overwrought, and he could not 
recover himself." 

The adventurer, of course, could wish for nothing 
better than to foster the misunderstanding that now 
arose between husband and wife. He made Sonya 
believe that Kovalevsky 's reserve and inaccessibility 
were due to other causes, and that she had good cause 
for jealousy. 

Through Sonya's own book " The Sisters Rajevsky,** 
we know that, as a child of ten, she already showed 
signs of being possessed by consuming jealousy. To 


touch that chord was to awaken the strongest passion 
of her stormy nature. Through it, Sonya now lost 
her critical judgment, and was not in a fit state 
to inquire whether this charge against her husband 
were true or not. Later on in life she became 
almost convinced that it had been a pure invention. 
But at the moment she felt only a strong inclination 
to get away from the humiliation of feeling herself 
n^lected ; fearing lest her passion should make her 
condescend to the pettiness of spying upon her 
husband's movements, or lead to distressing scenes. 
She dreaded living with a man whose love and 
confidence she believed she had lost, or to see 
him go to his ruin without being able to save 

Such anxieties were too much for a nature to which 
resignation was almost impossible. In matters of feel- 
ing she was as uncompromising and exacting as she 
was lenient and easy to satisfy in all material things. 
She had, without loving him, accepted him as her 
husband, and made his interests her own. She had 
striven to bind him to herself with all the exquisite 
tenderness which a nature like hers bestows upon, but 
also requires from, the man who was her husband and 
the father of her child. 

When, despite all, she saw her husband turn fi-om 
her, and believed he had put another in her place, the 
network of tenderness, which she had purposely woven 
around him, broke. Her heart contracted and shut 
out the picture of him whom she had determined to 
love, and once more she was alone. 


She decided to make a future for herself and her 
little daughter entirely by her own endeavours, and she 
left husband, home, and country, to resume once more 
her student life abroad. 



WHEN the train had moved out of the station, and 
Sonya lost sight of the friends who had come to 
bid her farewell, she gave vent to the feelings she had 
hitherto suppressed, and broke into uncontrollable 
sobbing. She wept for the lost years of happiness ; 
for the lost dream of full and perfect union with 
another soul ; she trembled at the thought of the 
lonely student*s room, which once had contained her 
whole life, but which could not satisfy her any longer, 
now that she had experienced the joy of being beloved 
in her own home, and by a circle of appreciative 

She tried to console herself by the thought of 
resuming her mathematical studies. She dreamed of 
writing a book which should make her celebrated, 
and bring glory to her sex. But it was useless ! 
These joys paled before the personal happiness which 
during the last few years had been the purpose and aim 
of her heart. 

The paroxysms of tears became more and more 
violent, and she shook from head to foot. 



She had not noticed that an elderly gentleman, 
sitting opposite to her in the carriage, was watclung 
her with sympathy. 

" I cannot see you cry in this way ! *' he exclaimed 
at last. " I suppose it is the first time you have gone 
out into the world alone. But you are not going into 
the midst of cannibals. A young girl like yourself will 
always find friends and help when she needs them." 

She had allowed this stranger to witness her despair, 
though hitherto she had hidden her wounds from her 
nearest and dearest. It was a relief when she noticed 
that he had not the least idea who she was. During 
the conversation which followed, it became evident that 
he took her for a little governess going abroad to earn 
her living in a strange family. 

She kept up his illusion, only too happy to preserve 
her incognito, and even amused at playing a little 
comedy which served to distract her thoughts. It was 
not difficult for her to conceive her role so completely 
as to identify herself in imagination with the supposed 
poor little governess. 

With downcast eyes she received advice and comfort 
from her good-natured travelling companion. So strong 
was the fantastic element in her character, that despite 
her great sorrow, she began to enjoy the mystification. 

When the gentleman proposed that they should stop 
in the town they were passing through, and see what- 
ever it might aflTord that was interesting, she consented 
to do so. They spent a couple of days there, and then 
parted without having even learned each other's name 
or position. 


This little episode is characteristic of Sonya's love of 
adventure. The stranger had been sympathetic to her. 
His kind interest in her sorrow touched her. She felt 
alone in the world ; why not accept this bright gleam 
which chance had thrown in her way ? Another 
woman might doubtless have compromised herself 
hopelessly in a man*s eyes by such conduct. Two 
days* intercourse with a man from morning to evening, 
a man who did not even know who she was ! But to 
Sonya, so long accustomed to the student life she had 
shared with her husband, it seemed quite simple. She 
knew well how to draw the line whenever she chose. 
No man ever presumed to cross it. 

A few years later she entered into equally strange and 
peculiar relations with a young man in Paris. 

The keeper of the lodging-house in the suburbs of 
that city where she lived, must hardly have known 
what to think. Time after time, this woman saw a 
young man leave the house at two in the morning, and 
climb over the palings surrounding the garden. As 
this young man spent all his days with Sonya, and often 
stayed till late at night, and as^ at this time, she had no 
other friends, it certainly did seem a rather doubtful 
proceeding. Nevertheless, the friendship existing be- 
tween these two was of the most ideal kind imaginable. 

The young man was a Pole, and a revolutionist. 
Moreover, a mathematician and a poet. His and 
Sonya's souls were two fiery flames merged in one 
glow. No one had ever understood her so well and 
sympathised with her so much as he. No one had so 
entered into every word, thought, and dream. They 


were almost constantly together, and yet they em- 
ployed the few moments during which they were parted 
in pouring forth to each other, in writing, their inmost 
thoughts. They composed poetry together, and began 
writing a long romance. They indulged in the idea 
that every human being has its twin soul, so that every 
individual man or woman is but half a creature. The 
other half, which is to complete the soul, is always to 
be found somewhere on the earth. But rarely in this 
life do they meet. It is usually in a future state only 
that they find one another. Where could one find 
any more full-blown romance? In this life these two 
souls which had met could never be united, for circum- 
stances had destroyed the possibility for them of true 
union. Even if Sonya had still been free, yet she had 
been married ; and he had consecrated himself to one 
who was in future to be his only love. 

Neither did Sonya feel it right to belong to any one 
but her husband, for the bond which united her to him 
had not been entirely dissolved. They still wrote to 
each other occasionally. There was a possibility of 
their meeting ag^n, and she was still fond of lum in 
the depths of her heart. 

So the intercourse between her and the Pole was 
only that of a responsive interchange of thought, and an 
abstract analysing of feeling. They used to sit oppo- 
site each other and talk on without stopping; intoxi- 
cating themselves with the increasing stream of words 
so characteristic of the Slavonic race. But in the midst 
of their visionary fervour, Sonya was crushed by a great 


Her husband had not been able to survive the dis- 
covery that he had been shamefully cheated, and had 
mined his family. This highly gifted scientist, so 
simple and unostentatious, who had never desired the 
delights which wealth can bestow, was the victim of a 
financial fraud under circumstances utterly opposed to 
his character and to the tendencies of his whole life. 

The news of his death stretched Sonya on a sick-bed. 
She lay for a long time suffering from a dangerous 
nervous fever. She arose again broken in spirit, with 
the feeling that an irremediable sorrow had drawn a line 
across her life. 

She reproached herself deeply for not have remained 
with her husband, even though by so doing she must 
have doomed herself to an almost imbearable struggle. 
She was agonised by the thought that nothing could 
now retrieve the past. 

During this illness the freshness of youth vanished. 
She lost her clear comple»on, and a deep furrow, never 
more to be effaced, was drawn by care across her brow. 



DURING Sonya*s stay in St. Petersburg in 1876, 
she had made an acqudntance which was to have 
a decisive influence on her future life. Mittag Leffler, 
a pupil of Weierstrass, had heard a great deal of 
Sonya*s unusual talent from their mutual teacher, and 
came to see her. 

On this occasion Sonya had no premonition of the 
influence he would afterwards exert on her life. She 
only felt rather unwilling to receive her visitor when 
he was announced. She had at that time given up all 
studies, and did not even correspond with her former 

During the conversation, however, her former interests 
were aroused. She showed so much acuteness of judg- 
ment and quickness of perception in the most diflEiciilt 
mathematical problems, that her visitor felt almost 
confounded when he looked at the girlish face before 
him. The impression she made on him as a woman- 
thinker was so strong that several years later, when he 
became professor of mathematics in the new Univer- 
sity of Stockholm, one of his first steps was to induce 



the authorities to appoint " Fru *' Kovalevsky as his 


Sonya, a few years before her husband*s death, 
had expressed a wish to become a teacher at a uni- 
versity. Professor Mittag Leffler, who was greatly 
interested in the university recently established in his 
native town, and who also took a warm interest in the 
woman question, was eager to secure for his university 
the glory of attracting to it the first great woman- 

As early as 1881 Sonya wrote to Mittag Leffler, 
then at Helsingfors, the following letter : — 

Bellevuestrasse, Berlin, July 8, 1881. 
" I thank you none the less for the interest you take 
in my possible appointment to Stockholm, and for all 
the trouble you have given yourself for this purpose. I 
can assure you that, if a lectureship were offered to me, I 
should accept it gratefully. I have never looked for any 
other appointment than this, and I will even admit that I 
should feel less bashful and shy, if I were only allowed 
the possibility of applying my knowledge of the higher 
branches of education. I may in this way open the 
universities to women, which have hitherto only been 
open by special favour — a favour which can be 
denied at any moment, as has recently happened in 
the German universities. Without being rich, I have 
still the means of living independently. The question 
of salary is, therefore, of no importance to me in 
coming to a decision. What I wish, above all, is to 
serve the cause in which I take so great an interest ; 


and, at the same time, to be able to live for my 
work, surrounded by those who are occupied with 
the same questions ; — a piece of good fortune I 
have never enjoyed in Russia, but only in Berlin. 
These, dear Professor, are my personal feelings on 
the subject, but I think I ought to tell you even 

more. Professor W believes that, as far "as he can 

judge of Swedish matters, it is not possible for the 
Stockholm University to accept a woman even as a 
teacher. What is of still greater importance, he is 
afraid that if you insist on introducing such novelties, 
it may injure your own position. It would be selfish 
of me if I did not let you know the opinion of our 
beloved teacher. And you can easily understand how 
unhappy I should be, if, after all, I injured you, who 
have always shown so much interest in me, and helped 
me so greatly ; you for whom I feel so sincere a 
friendship. I believe it would be wiser, therefore, not 
to do anything at present, but to wait till I have finished 
the papers on which I am at present engaged. If I 
succeed in completing them as well as I intend and 
hope, it would in every way help towards the aim I 
have in view." 

It was after this that the dramatic episodes in Sonya*s 
life occurred : the separation from her husband ; the 
Polish romance; her husband's death and her long 

All this delayed the completion of the papers men- 
tioned in her letter, so that it was not until August, 
1883, that she could inform Mittag LefBer that the 


first of these was completed. She writes to him from 
Odessa on August 28, 1883 : — 

" I have at last succeeded in finishing one of the two 
works on which I have been busy during the last twc 
years. My first wish, as soon as I found it satisfactory, 

was to let you know. But Herr W , with his usual 

kindness, has taken that trouble, letting you know the 
result of my researches. I have just received a letter 
from him, saying that he had told you about it, and 
that you have answered him with your usual kindness, 
asking me to go to Stockholm, and to begin there a 
course of private lessons. I cannot tell you how grate- 
ful I am to you for the friendship you have always 
shown me, and how happy I am to be able to enter 
a career which has ever been the cherished object of my 
desires. At the same time, I feel I ought to tell you 
that in many respects I fed but little fitted for the 
duties of a * docent,' and at times I so much doubt my 
own capacity that I fetl you, who have always judged 
me leniently, will be quite disillusioned when you find, 
on nearer inspection, how little I am really good for. 
I am truly grateful to Stockholm, which is the only 
European university that will open its doors to me, 
and I am already prepared to be in love with that city, 
and to attach myself to Sweden as though it were my 
native home. I hope that, if I do come there, it will 
be to find a new * foster-land.' But just because of 
this, I should not care to go there before I feel pre- 
pared to deserve the good opinion you have of me, 
and to make a good impression. I have written to-day 
to W to ask whether he does not think it would 


be good for me to spend another two or three months 
with him, in order to grasp his ideas better, and to fill 
up the gaps which are still to be found in my mathe- 
matical knowledge. These few months in Berlin would 
also be useful to me, for I should then come into contact 
with young mathematicians just beginning their career 
as lecturers, many of whom I knew pretty well during 
my last stay in Berlin. I could even arrange with them 
that we should correspond on mathematical subjects. 
I could then no doubt expound Abel's * Theory of 
Functions,' which they do not know, and which I have 
studied deeply. This would give me some opportunity 
of lecturing, which, up to this time, I have never had. 
Then I should arrive in Stockholm much more sure 
of myself." 

This plan was not realised, and on November nth 
of the same year Sonya left St. Petersburg and started 
for Stockholm vid Hango. 



AS is natural, now that Sonya is dead, my first meeting 
with her is vividly recalled to my mind, even in its 
most minute details. She arrived from Finland in the 
evening by boat, and came as a guest to my brother 
Leffler's house. I went there the day after her arrival. 
We were prepared to be friends, for we had heard 
much of each other, and were eager to become 
acquainted. Perhaps she had expected more from 
the meeting than 1, for she felt a great interest in that 
which was my special dm and object. I, on the other 
hand, rather fancied that a woman-mathematician would 
prove too abstract for me. 

She was standing in the window when I arrived, 
turning over the leaves of a book. Before she could 
turn, I had time to see a serious and marked profile ; 
rich chestnut hair arranged in a negligent plait, and a 
spare figure with a certdn graceftil elegance in its pose, 
but not well proportioned, for the bust and upper part 
of the body were too small in comparison with the large 
head. Her mouth was large and most expressive, her 
lips ftdl, fresh, and well curved. Her hands were small, 



almost like a child's ; exquisitely modelled, but rather 
spoiled by prominent blue veins. Her eyes were 
the most remarkable feature of her face, and gave to 
her countenance the look of lofty intellect which so 
greatly impressed all who observed her. Their colour 
was uncertain ; they varied from grey to green and 
brown. Unusually large, prominent, and luminous, 
they had an intensity of expression which seemed to 
pierce the furthest comer of your soul when she fixed 
her eyes upon you. But though so piercing they were 
soft and loving, and full of responsive sympathy, which 
seemed to woo those, on whom their magnetising power 
rested, to tell her their inmost secrets. So great was 
their charm, that one scarcely noticed their defect. 
Sonya was so short-sighted, that when she was very 
tired she often squinted. 

She turned to me with a quick movement, and came 
across the room to meet me with outstretched hands. 
There was, however, a certain shyness about her which 
made our greeting rather formal. 

Our first conversation turned on the bad toothache 
she had unfortunately suffered from during the voyage. 
I offered to take her to the dentist. A pleasant object, 
indeed, for her first walk in a new town ! She was, 
however, the last person to bestow too much attention 
or time on so trivial an incident. 

I was at that moment thinking out the plot of my 
play, entitled ** How to Do Good," but had not yet 
written it down. So great was Sonya's power of giving 
an impetus to one's inner thoughts, that, before she had 
reached the dentist's, 1 had told her the whole play, 


worked out in far greater detail and breadth than I was 
conscious of. 

This was the commencement of the great influence 
she exercised later on my writings. Her power of 
understanding and sympathising with the thoughts of 
others was so exceptional, her praise when she was 
pleased so warm and enthusiastic, her criticism so just, 
that, for a receptive nature like mine, it was impossible 
to work without her approbation. 

If she criticised unfavourably anything I had written, 
I rewrote it until she was pleased. This was the 
commencement of our collaboration. She used to say 
that I should never have written " Ideal Women " if 
I had not done so before her arrival in Sweden. This 
work, and my novel " At War with Society," were the 
only books of mine that she disliked. She disapproved 
of " Bertha's " struggle to try and secure the remnant 
of her mother's fortune, for she considered that when 
a woman has once given herself to a man, she must not 
for a moment hesitate to sacrifice her fortune to the 
very last farthing if he needs it. This criticism was so 
like her ; she was always so subjective in her judgments 
of literary work. If the thought and feeling in a 
book were in accordance with her own sympathies, she 
was prone to value it highly, even if it was only 
mediocre. If, on the other hand, it contained any 
opinion in which she did not share, she would not 
admit that the book had any merit at all. 

In spite of this prejudice, she was as broad in her 
views as the most highly gifted individuals of her age. 
Of the prejudices and conventionalities of ordinary 


mortals she had not a trace. Her comprehensive 
genius and her high culture raised her far above the 
boundaries by which tradition limits most minds. 

Limitations she found, but only in the strong indi- 
viduality of her nature, the pronounced sympathies 
and antipathies of which withstood both logic and 

On this first occasion we did not see much of each 
other, and our acquaintance did not deepen into friend- 
ship, for within a month of her arrival I went abroad 
for some time. Before that, however, she had learned 
enough Swedish to read my books. Immediately after 
her arrival she began to take lessons in that language, 
and for the first week she really did nothing but study 
it from morning till night. 

My brother, as soon as she arrived, told her that he 
wanted to give a soiree in order to introduce her to all 
his scientific friends. But she begged him to wait until 
she could speak Swedish. This seemed to us rather 
optimistic, but she kept her word. In a fortnight she 
could speak a little, and during the first winter she had 
mastered our literature, and had read Frithiof 's Saga 
with delight. 

This unusual talent for languages had its limitations. 
She used to say that she had no real talent that way, 
and had only learned several languages from necessity 
and ambition. It is quite true that, notwithstanding 
the quick results she obtained when she first learned a 
language, she never acquired it to perfection, and always 
forgot one language as soon as she learned another. 
Though she was in Germany when quite a young 


girl, she spoke the language very brokenly, and her 
German friends used to laugh at the ridiculous and 
often impossible words she coined. She never allowed 
herself to be stopped in the flow of her conversation by 
any such minor considerations as the correct choice of 
words. She always spoke fluently, always succeeded in 
expressing what she wanted to say, and in giving an 
individual stamp to her utterances, however imperfectly 
she spoke the language she was using. When she had 
learned Swedish she had nearly forgotten all her German, 
and when she had been away from Sweden a few months, 
she spoke Swedish very badly on her return. One of 
her characteristics was that when tired or depressed she 
had great difficulty in finding words ; but when in 
good spirits she spoke rapidly and with great elegance. 
Language, like everything else with her, was under the 
influence of her personal moods. 

During the last autumn of her life, when she returned 
from Italy — where she spent a couple of weeks, and fell 
in love with that country, as every one who goes there 
docs — she spoke Italian fairly ; but on the other hand, 
she spoke Swedish very badly, because she was out 
of harmony with Sweden. 

French was the foreign language she spoke best, 
though she did not iwrite it quite correctly. It was 
said that, in Russian, her style showed a certain foreign 

She often complained that she could not speak 
Russian with her intimate friends in Sweden. She used 
to say, " I can never quite express the delicate nuances 
of thought. I have always to content myself with the 


next-best expression, or say what I want to say in a 
roundabout way. I never find the exact expressions. 
That is why, when I return to Russia, I feel released 
from the prison in which my best thoughts were in 
bondage. You cannot think what suffering it is to 
have to speak always a foreign language to your friends. 
You might as well wear a mask on your face." 

In February, 1884, I went to London, and did not 
meet Sonya again till the following October. Wlule 
in London I had only one letter from her. In it she 
describes her winter at Stockholm. The letter has no 
date, but it was evidently written in April, and, like 
the former letters quoted, was in French. 

" What shall I tell you about our life in Stockholm ? " 
she says. " If it has not been very inhaltsreich^ it has 
at least been very lively, and lately very tiring. Suppers, 
dinners, soirhSy and receptions, have succeeded each 
other, and it has been difficult to find time to go to all 
these parties, and also to prepare meantime my lectures, 
or to work. To-day we have suspended our lectures 
for the Easter fortnight, and I am as happy as a school- 
girl at the prospect of a holiday. The ist of May is 
not far distant, and then I hope to go to Berlin, vid St. 
Petersburg. My plans for next winter are still unde- 
cided, as they do not depend upon me. As you can 
easily imagine, people talk constantly about you. Every 
one wants to hear about you. Your letters are read, 
commented upon, and make quite a sensation. The 
leading ladies of Stockholm seem to have very few sub- 
jects of conversation, and it is really a charity to give 
them something to talk about. I enjoy beforehand and 


yet tremble over the effect of your play when it is put 
on the stage next autumn." 

In April, Sony a finished her course of lectures, and 
left for Russia. She writes as follows to Mittag 
LefHer :— 

"Russia, j4pril 29, 1884. 

"... It seems a century since I left Stockholm. I 
shall never be able to express or to show all the grati- 
tude and friendship I feel for you. It is as if I had 
foimd in Sweden a new foster-land and family at the 
moment when I most needed them. . . ." 

The course of lectures Sonya had given that year in 
German at the University of Stockholm had been quite 
private. The lectures had raised her greatly in public 
estimation, and Mittag LefHer was enabled to collect 
privately the funds necessary to give her an official 
appointment, which was to last, in the first instance, for 
five years. Several persons bound themselves to pay a 
lump sum of about ^i 12 a year. The University gave 
about the same sum, so that Sonya had ^225 a year. 
Her pecuniary position was such that she could no 
longer give her work gratis, as she had at first gener- 
ously oflFered to do. But it was not only the pecuniary 
question which had raised difficulties in the way of 
her official appointment. 

The conservative opposition which natually arose in 
many directions against the employment of a woman as 
a university professor had to be overcome. No other 
university had set the example. The funds might 
possibly have been found to furnish a life-appointment 


But the considerations urged against such an appoint- 
ment appearing to be insurmountable, Professor Leffler 
decided to postpone the attempt till a more convenient 
season. At the end of the first five years he succeeded 
in obtaining for Sonya a life-appointment, which she 
enjoyed just one year. 

On July I, 1884, Mittag Leffler had the pleasure 
of telegraphing to Sonya, who was then in Berlin, that 
she had been appointed professor for five years. She 
answered the same day in the following terms :— 

"Berlin, July i, 1884. 
"... I need hardly tell you that your and Ugglas' 
telegrams have filled my heart with joy. I may now 
confess that up to the last moment, I believed and feared 
that the matter could not be carried through. I thought 
that at the critical moment some unexpected difficulty 
would arise, and that all our plans would come to 
nothing. I am also sure that it is only owing to your 
perseverance and energy that we have been able to attain 
our end. I only hope that I may have the strength 
and capacity requisite for my duties, and to help you in 
all your undertakings. 1 firmly believe in my future, 
and shall be glad to work with you. What joy and 
happiness it is that we met ! " . . . 

Further on she says : " W has spoken to several 

officials here about my wish to attend lectures. It is 
possible that the thing may be arranged, but not this 
summer, as the present Rector is a decided opponent of 
woman's rights. I hope, however, it may be arranged 


by December, when I return to spend my Christmas 
holidays here/* 

The University at Stockholm had already appointed 
Fru Kovalevsky professor, while in Germany it was 
still impossible for her, as a woman, to attend even 

Another person might have been somewhat perturbed 
by the uncertainty of the appointment she now accepted. 
But the future never harassed Sonya. If the present 
were satisfactory, that was all she required. She was 
ready at any moment to sacrifice a brilliant future if by 
doing so she could secure a happier and fuller present. 

Before going to Berlin, Sonya had paid a visit to 
her little daughter, who was living with the friend of 
Sonya's youth in Moscow. Thence she wrote a letter 
to Mittag Leffler, which may be taken as an exposition 
of her ideas of a mother's duty, and which describes 
the conflict between her duties as a mother and as an 
oflicial personage ; as a woman, and as a bread-winner. 

"Moscow, June 3, 1884. 

" I have had a long letter from T , in which she 

expresses a warm wish that I should bring my little girl 
with me to Stockholm. But, in spite of all the con- 
siderations which might incline me to have my little 
Sonya with me, I have almost dedded to let her spend 
another winter in Moscow. I do not think it would 
be in the child's interest to take her away from this 
place, where she is well cared for, and to carry her back 
with me to Stockholm, where nothing is prepared for 
her, and where 1 shall have to devote my whole time 


and energy to my new duties. T says, among 

other things, that many people will accuse me of in- 
diflerence to my child. I suppose that is quite possible, 
but I confess that I do not care in the least for that 
argument. I am quite willing to submit to the judg- 
ment of the Stockholm ladies in all that has to do 
with the minor details of life ; but in serious questions, 
especially when I do not act in my own interests but in 
those of my child, I consider it would be impardonable 
weakness on my part were I to let the shadow of a wish 
to play the part of a good mother in the eyes of Stock- 
holm petticoats, influence me in the least." 

On her return to Sweden, in September, Sonya went 
to Sodertelje for a few weeks, in order to finish in peace 
the work commenced so long ago, ^^ Ljusets brytning 
in ett kristalliniskt medium^ Mittag Leffler and a 
young German mathematician, whose acquaintance Sonya 
had made at Berlin during the summer, were with her 
at Sodertelje, and the young mathematician assisted her 
by correcting her German. 

On my first visit to her on my return from England, 
I was astonished to find her looking younger and 
handsomer. I at first thought it was the effect of her 
having left oflF her mourning, for black was very im- 
becoming to her, and she herself hated it. The light- 
blue simuner dress she was now wearing made her com- 
plexion look brighter, and she also wore her rich 
chestnut hair in curls. But it was not only her out- 
ward appearance which was changed. I soon noticed 
that the melancholy which had enveloped her during 
her former sojourn in Stockholm had given place to 


sparkling gaiety, a side of her character which I now 
for the first time learned to know. She was in such a 
gay mood, sparkling with joy, dancing with life ; a 
shower of wit, half satirical, half good-natured, sparkled 
round her. One daring paradox followed another, and 
it was well for any one not quick at repartee to keep 
silence on such occasions, for she did not give people 
much chance of retort. 

She was, at this time, occupied with preparing her 
lectures for the new term. These she read to the young 
German mathematician, saying sportingly that he must 
be her " pointer," a role which otherwise fell to Mittag 

Sonya's bright mood lasted through the autumn. She 
led a social life, and was everywhere the centre of a 
magic circle. The strong satirical vein in her character 
and the deep contempt she felt for mediocrity (she 
belonged to the haute noblesse of the intellectual world, 
and worshipped genius) was, in her, wedded to a poet's 
ready sympathy with all human conflicts and troubles, 
however unimportant they might be. 

This made her take a lively interest in everything 
that concerned her friends. All the household worries 
of her married friends were confided to her, and young 
girls asked her advice about their dress, etc. The 
usual verdict passed upon her by those who knew her 
was that she was simple and unpretentious as a school- 
girl, and in no way thought herself above other women. 

But, as I have already said, this was not a true 
estimate of her character, just as the impression of 
frankness and afllability given by her manners was 



delusive. She was in reality reserved, and she con- 
sidered few people her equals. But the mobility of her 
nature and intelligence, the wish to please, and the 
psychological interest which as an author she took in 
all human things, gave her the sympathetic manner which 
charmed all who saw her. She seldom displayed her 
sarcastic vein to her inferiors unless they were really 
uncongenial to her. But she used it freely amongst 
those whom she looked upon as her equals. 

Meanwhile it did not take her long to exhaust the 
social interest in Stockholm. After a time she sdd she 
knew every one by heart and longed for fresh stimulus 
for her intelligence. This was a great misforttme to 
her, and accounts for the fact that she could not be 
happy in Stockholm, nor, perhaps, in any place in the 
world. She was continually in want of stimulus. She 
desired dramatic interests in life, and was ever seeking 
after high-wrought mental delights. She hated with all 
her heart the grey monotony of everyday life. 

Bohemian by nature, as she often called herself, she 
hated the virtues generally described as ^^bourgeoisJ'^ 
She herself attributed this trait in her character to her 
descent from a gipsy woman who, I believe, married 
her father's grandfather — a marriage by which that 
gentleman forfeited his title of " prince," then possessed 
by the family. 

All this was not only a peculiarity of temperament in 
Sonya ; it underlay her intellectual nature. Her talents 
were of the productive order, and at the same time she 
was very receptive by nature, and required stimulus 
from the genius of others in order to do productive 
work herself. 


This is the reason why her whole scientific career was 
occupied solely with the development of the ideas of her 
great teacher. In literature she absolutely required an 
interchange of ideas with persons ^milarly occupied. 

With such a substratum underlying her whole character 
and intelligence, it. was only natural that life in such a 
small town as Stockholm should be altogether mono- 
tonous to her. She could only really live in the great 
European capitals. There, and there only could she 
find the mental stimulus she needed. 

She spent the Christmas of 1884 in Berlin. On 
her return thence she made use, for the first, time, of 
the expression she afterwards used every year, and 
whidi so wounded and hurt, her friends. " The road 
fiioin Stockholm to Malmo," she s^d, " is the most 
beautiful line I have ever seen ; but the road from 
Malmo to Stockholm is the ugliest, dullest, and most, 

My heart bleeds when I think how often she had to 
take that journey with an ever-growing bitterness in 
her heart which at last brought her to an early grave. 

A letter to my brother, written from Berlin during 
that Christmas, shows how deeply melancholy her 
mood really was, despite all outward show of cheer- 
fulness. Her friends have told me that she was 
happier and more joyous during that Christmas than 
they had ever seen her. She regretted that during 
her real youth she had neglected youth's pleasures, and 
she now wanted to avenge herself, and began to take 
lessons in dancing and skating. She did not wish to 
expose her first awkward attempts at skating, so one of 


her friends and admirers arranged a private skating- 
ground for her in the garden of one of the Berlin 
villas. Her lessons in dancing were also taken in a 
similarly private fashion, with two admirers as cavaliers. 

She rushed from one entertainment to another, and 
was much feted, an experience she always enjoyed. 

But this happy mood was short-lived. A month 
later it had been chased away by the news of hei 
sister's illness, and by a love-af!^r, which, as usual 
with her, took no happy turn. The latter caused 
both her supreme joyousness and the deep despondency 
which followed it. 

She writes on December 27, 1884 : "I feel in very 
low spirits. I have had very bad news from my sister. 
Her illness makes terrible progress, and now it is her 
sight which is affected. She can neither read nor write. 
This is caused by the faulty action of her heart, which 
gives rise to clots of blood and paralysis. I tremble at 
the thought of the loss which awaits me in the near 
future. How sad life is after all ! and how dull it is 
to go on living ! It is my birthday, ' and I am thirty- 
one to-day. It is terrible to think I may perhaps 
have as many years still to live ! How beautiful it 
is in dramas and novels ! As soon as any one has 
found out that life is not worth living, some one or 
something comes on the scene and helps to make the 
passage to the * other side ' easy. Reality is in this 
detail inferior to fiction. One hears much of the 
perfection of the organisms as developed by living 

* This is a fiction, for it was neither her birthday, nor was she 
the age mentioned : see Introduction. 


creatures through the process of natural selection. I 
think that the highest perfection would be the power 
to die quickly and easily. In this matter man has cer- 
tainly d^enerated. Insects and the lower animals can 
never choose to die. An articulated animal can suffer 
unheard-of tortures without ceasing to exist. But the 
higher you rise in the animal sc^e, the easier life's 
transit. In a bird, a wild animal, a lion or a tiger, 
almost every illness is fatal. They have either the full 
enjoyment of life — or else death, but no suffering. Man 
in this particular is more like an insect. Many of my 
acquaintances make me involuntarily think of insects 
whose wings have been torn off, their bodies crushed, 
or their legs injured. Yet, poor things, they cannot 
decide to die. Forgive me for writing to you in such 
low spirits. I really am in a very gloomy mood. I 
feel no desire to work. I have not yet been able to 
settle down to prepare my lectures for the next term. 
But I have pondered much over the following problem." 
(And here a mathematical working is given.) 

I again quote the same letter : " I have received 
from your sister, as a Christmas present, an article 
by Strindberg, in which he proves, as decidedly as that 
two and two make four, what a monstrosity a woman 
professor of mathematics is, and how unnecessary, in- 
jurious, and out of place she is. I think he is right au 
fond. The only remark I protest against is, that there 
were plenty of mathematicians in Sweden better than I 
am, and that it was only chivalry which made them 
select me ! " 



AMONG the crowd of skaters who that winter 
frequented the Nybroviken and the royal skating- 
ground at Skeppsholmen, a little short-sighted lady, 
clad in a tight-fitting fur-trimmed costume, her hands 
tucked into a muff, might be seen daily trying, with 
small uncertain steps, to move along on her skates. She 
was accompanied by a tall gentleman wearing spectacles, 
and a tall, slight lady, and none of them seemed very 
steady on their feet. While staggering along together 
they kept up a lively conversation, and sometimes the 
gentleman would draw a geometrical figure on the ice, 
not indeed with his skates — not being dexterous enough 
for that — but with his stick. The little lady would 
then instantly pause and study the figure intently. The 
two had come together from the University to the 
skating-ground, and were generally engaged in hot 
discussion arising from a lecture which one or the 
other had just given ; a discussion which was usually 
continued after reaching the ground. 

Sometimes the little lady would cry mercy, and beg 
to be eycused from talking mathematics while skating. 

^ « V % 


• • ' *.• • * 


as it made her lose her balance. At another time she 
and the tall lady would engage in talk on psychological 
topics, or communicate to each other some plot for 
a novel or drama. They even argued and sparred 
about their respective proficiency in the art of skating. 
In any other occupation they willingly admitted each 
other's superiority, but not in this. 

Any one who met Madame Kovalevsky in society 
that winter might have imagined she was a very pro- 
ficient skater ; one who could have carried oflF the 
prize in a tournament with the greatest ease. She 
spoke of the sport with great eagerness and interest, 
and was very proud of the smallest progress she made, 
though she had never shown any such vanity about the 
works which had brought her world-wide renown. 

Even in the riding-school she and her tall companion 
might often be seen that winter, and it was evident 
they took great interest in each other's accomplishments. 
The celebrated Madame Kovalevsky was naturally much 
noticed wherever she made her appearance, but no little 
schoolgirl could have behaved more childishly than she 
did at her riding or skating lessons. Her taste for 
such sports was not seconded by the least facility for 
them. She was scarcely in the saddle, for instance, than 
she was overcome with fear. She would scream if her 
horse made the least unexpected movement. She 
always begged for the quietest and soberest animal in 
the stables. But she would afterwards explain why 
that day's riding-lesson had been a failure, alleging 
either that the horse had been fidgety or wild, or that 
the saddle had been uncomfortable. She never got 



beyond a ten minutes' trot, and, if the horse broke 
into a good pace, she would call to the riding-master 
in broken Swedish, " Please, good sir, make the horse 
stop ! " 

She bore with great amiability all the teasing of her 
friends on this account, but when she talked to other 
people about the matter, they easily went off with the 
idea that she was an accomplished horsewoman who 
could boldly ride the wildest animal at a gallop. All 
this was no boasting ; she thoroughly believed in it. 
She always intended to do something wonderful each 
time she went to the riding-school, and was continually 
proposing riding tours. Her explanation of her over- 
whelming fear when once mounted was, that it was 
not real fright, but only nervousness, which made her 
sensitive to every noise, so that the footsteps of the 
other horses upset her composure. Her friends often 
could not resist asking her what kind of noise it was 
that, when out walking, made her jump over hedges 
and ditches to avoid a harmless cow, or run away from 
a dog that merely sniffed at her. 

She describes this kind of cowardice very well in an 
otherwise great character in her posthumous novel, 
**Vera VerontzofF" :— 

"In the learned circle in which he lived no one 
would have dreamt of suspecting him of cowardice. 
On the contrary, all his colleagues dreaded lest his 
courage should lead him into difficulties. In his own 
heart he knew himself to be far from courageous. But 
in his day-dreams he loved to imagine himself amid 
the mcst dangerous circumstances. More than once. 


in the silence of his quiet study, he had fancied himself 
stonning a barricade. In spite of this, he kept at a 
respectful distance from village curs, and declined to 
make any near acquaintance with homed cattle." 

Sonya perhaps exaggerated her fear out of coquetry. 
She possessed to a high degree that feminine grace so 
highly appreciated by men. She loved to be protected. 

To energy and genius truly masculine, and to a* 
character in some ways inflexible, she united a very 
feminine helplessness. She never learned her way 
about Stockholm. She only knew perfectly a few 
streets, those which led to the University or to the 
houses of her intimate friends. She could neither look 
after her money matters, her house, nor her child. The 
latter she was obliged to leave in the care of others. In 
fact, she was so unpractical that all the minor details 
of life were a burden to her. When she was obliged 
to seek paid work, to apply to an editor or to get 
introductions, she was incapable of looking after her 
own interests. But she never failed to find some 
devoted friend who made her interest his own, and on 
whom she could throw all the burden of her afiairs. 

At every railway station where she stopped on her 
many jourr *ys, some one was always waiting to receive 
her, to proc -e rooms for her, to show her the way, or 
to place hvS "--rvices at her disposal. It was such a 
delight to her to be thus assisted and cared for in trifles 
that, as I said before, she rather liked to exaggerate her 
fears and helplessness. Notwithstanding all this, there \ 
was never a woman who, in the deepest sense of the I 
word, could be more independent of others. I 


In a letter written in German to the adnurer who 
had taught her to dance and skate, Sonya describes her 
life in Stockholm during the winter of 1884-85. 

"Stockholm, Jprily 1885. 

"Dear Mr. H., — I am ashamed that I have not 
answered your kind letter sooner. My only excuse is 
the multifarious occupations which have filled up my 
time. I will tell you all I have been doing. To 
begin with there are my lectures three times a week 
in Swedish. I read and study the algebraic introduc- 
tion to the theory of 'Abel's Functions,' and in 
Germany these lectures are supposed to be the most 
difficult. I have a pretty large number of students, all 
of whom I retain, with the exception of at most two 
or three who have withdrawn. Secondly, I have been 
writing a short mathematical treatise, which I shall 
send to Weierstrass immediately, asking him to get 
it published in Borchardt's Journal. Thirdly, I and 
Mittag Leffler have begun a large mathematical work. 
We hope to get a great deal of pleasure and fame 
out of it — this is a secret at present, so do not yet 
mention it. Fourthly, I have made the acquaintance 
of a very pleasant man, who has recently returned to 
Stockholm from America. He is the editor of the 
largest Swedish newspaper. He has made me promise 
to write something for his paper, and, so [you know,' 
/ can never see my friends at work without wishing to 
do exactly what they are doing\^ I have written a number 

The italics have been added by the friend who sends the letter. 


of short articles ^ for him. For the moment I have 
only one of these personal reminiscences ready, but I 
send it to you, as you understand Swedish so well. 
Fifthly (last, not least), can you really believe, unlikely 
as it sounds, that I have developed into an accom- 
plished skater ! At the end of last week I was on 
the ice every day. I am so sorry you cannot see how 
well I manage now. Whenever I gain a little extra 
dexterity I think of you. And now I can even 
skate a little backwards ! ! But I can go forward with 
great facility and assurance ! ! All my friends here are 
astonished how quickly I have mastered the difficult 
art. In order to console myself a little, now that the 
ice has disappeared, I have taken furiously to riding 
with my friend. In the few weeks of the Easter 
holidays I intend to ride at least an hour every day. I 
like riding very much. I really don't know which I 
like best, skating or riding. But this is by no means 
the end of all my frivolities. There is to be a great 
fete on April 15th. It is a kind of fair or bazaar, and 
seems to be a very Swedish affair. A hundred of us 
ladies will dress in costume, and sell all sorts of things 
for the benefit of a Folk's Museum. I am, of course, 
going to be a gipsy, and equally of course a great guy. 
I have asked five other young ladies to share my fate 
and help me. We are to be a gipsy troop, with tents, 
and our * marshals,' also in the costume of gipsy 
yrouths, will assist us. We are likewise to have a 
Russian samovar, and to serve tea from it. 

* She had in reality only written one of the articles, but in her vivid 
magination what she intended doing was already done. 


"Now what do you say to all this nonsense, dear 
Mr. H. ? This evening I am going to have a grand 
party in my own little room, the first I have given since 
I have been in Stockholm." 

In the spring of the year there was a suggestion 
made that Sonya should lecture on mechanics during 
the illness of Professor Holmgrens. 

She wrote on this subject to Professor Mittag LefBer, 
who had then left Stockholm : 

" Stockholm, June 3rd. 
" I have been to Lindhagen, who told me that the 
authorities of the University are of opinion that I ought 
to be Professor Holmgren's substitute. But they do 
not wish this mentioned, as it might have a bad effect 
on Holmgren. He is really very ill, but does not yet 
seem to realise the fact. I replied to Lindhagen that I 
felt that this was quite fair, and that I am satisfied to 
know that the authorities think I should be Holmgren's 
locum tenens in case he is not able to give his autumn 
lectures. But if, contrary to present expectations, he 
should have recovered before then, I should be so 
pleased with the happy turn of events, that I should not 
regret the work I should thus have missed. I am much 
pleased, my dear friend, that things have turned out so 
well, and I shall do my best to make my lectures as 
good as possible. Stories with a moral are always tire- 
some in books, but they are very encouraging and 
edifying when they occur in real life ; so I am doubly 
pleased that my motto, ^pas trop de ziky has been 
refuted in so brilliant and unexpected a manner. I do 


hope you will have no reason to reproach me with losing 
courage. You must never forget, dear friend, that I 
am Russian. When a Swedish woman is tired, or in a 
had humour, she is silent and sulky. Of course, the 
ill-humour strikes inwards and becomes a chronic 
complaint. A Russian bemoans and bewails herself so 
much that it aflects her mentally as a catarrh affects her 
physically. For the rest I must say that I only bemoan 
and bewail when I am slightly unhappy. When I am 
in great distress, then I too am silent. No one can 
notice my distress. I may sometimes have reproached 
you with being too optimistic, but I would not have 
you cure yourself of this on any account. The fault 
suits you to perfection, and, besides, the most striking 
proof of your optimism is the good opinion you have 
of me. You can easily understand that I should like 
you to be right in this detail.*' 

Shortly after this, Sonya went to Russia to spend the 
summer, partly in St. Petersburg with her invalid sister, 
and partly in the environs of Moscow with her friend 
and her little girl. 

I here quote from a few letters written thence. They 
are not very full of interest, as she was not fond of 
writing. Our correspondence, therefore, was not lively, 
but her letters always contained fragments of her life- 
history. They are often, even in their brevity, cha- 
racteristic of the mood which possessed her while 
writing them. They are thus of much value in de- 
picting her character. 

I was in Switzerland with my brother, and had 

.. ^SWf L. , - J 


invited her to meet us there, when I received the 
following letter : — 

"My dear Ann Charlotte, — I have just received 
your kind letter. You cannot imagine how I should 
like to start at once to meet you and your brother in 
Smtzerland, and go on a walking tour with you to the 
highest parts of the Alps ! I have a sufficiently lively 
imagination to enable me to picture how charming this 
would be. What happy weeks we might spend to- 
gether! Unfortunately I am kept here by a whole 
string of reasons ; the one more stupid and tiresome 
than the other. To begin with, I have promised to 
stay here till August ist, and though I am, in principle, 
of the opinion that * man is master of his word,' the 
old prejudices are so strong in me that I always return 
to them when I have a chance of realising my theories. 
Instead of the ' master^ I also am the slave of my 
word. Besides, there are a whole host of things which 
keep me here. Your brother (who knows me au fond 
and judges me rightly — only you must not tell him so 
for fear of flattering his vanity too much) has often 
said that I am very impressionable, and that it is always 
the duties and impressions of the moment which deter- 
mine my actions. In Stockholm, where every one 
treats me as the champion of the woman-question, I 
begin to think it is my most important obligation to 
develop and cultivate my 'genius.' But I must humbly 
admit that here I am always introduced to new ac- 
quaintances as * Foufis Mamay ^ and you cannot 

' Sonya was staying at this nme near Moscow with the friend 
who had charge of her little girl. 


imagine what an eflfect this has in diminishing my 

vanity. It calls forth in me a perfect crop of genuine 

virtues, which spring up like mushrooms, and of which 

you would never suppose me capable. Add to this 

the heat which softens my brain, and you can then 

picture what I am like at this moment. In a word, 

the result is that all the small influences and forces 

which dominate your poor friend are strong enough to 

keep me there till August ist. The only thing I can 

hope for is to meet you in Normandy, and to go on 

with your brother to Aberdeen. Write soon to me, 

dear Ann Charlotte. How happy you are ! You 

cannot imagine how I envy you. Do at least write to 

me. I shall do my best to join you in Normandy. 

Bien d toi. " Son ya." 

As usual, there is no date to her letters, but at about 
the same time she wrote to my brother :-— ^ 

"Cher Monsieur, — I have received your kind letter. 
No. 8, and I hasten to answer ; though I have little or 
nothing to tell you ; our life is monotonous to that 
d^ree that I lose the power, not only of working, but 
of caring for anything. I feel that if this lasts much 
longer I shall become a vegetable. It is really curious, 
the less you have to do the less you are able to work. 
Here I do absolutely nothing. I sit all day long with my 
embroidery in my hand, but without an idea in my head. 
The heat begins to be stifling. After the rain which we 
had at first, the summer has set in quite hot, a regular 
Russian summer. You could boil eggs in the shade ! " 



To her friend Mr. H., in Berlin, she also writes an 
amusing account of her life that summer. 

" I am now staying with my friend, Julia L., on a 
small estate of hers in the neighbourhood of Moscow. 
I have found my daughter bright and well. I do not 
know which of us has been happiest in the reunion. 
We are not going to be separated any more, for I am 
going to take her back with me to Stockholm. She is 
nearly six, and is a very sensible child for her age. 
Every one thinks she is like me, and I really think she 
is like what I was in my childhood. My friend is very 
depressed ; she has just lost her only sister, so it is 
at present rather dull and dismal in this house. Our 
circle of acquaintances consists entirely of old ladies. 
Four old maids live with us, and as they all go about 
in deep mourning our house seems almost like a con- 
vent. We also eat a great deal, as people do in 
convents ; and four times a day we drink tea, with all 
sorts of jams, sweetmeats, and cakes — which helps us to 
get through the time nicely. I try to make a little 
diversion in other ways. For instance, one day I asked 
Julia to go with me to the next village without the 
coachman, persuading her that I could drive beautifiilly. 
We arrived safely at our destination. But coming home 
the horses shied, came into collision with a tree, and 
we were thrown into a ditch ! Poor Julia injured 
her foot, but I, the criminal, escaped unhurt from the 

A little later Sonya wrote to the same friend : — 

" Our life here continues to be so monotonous that I 
have nothing to say beyond thanking you for your 


letter. I have not even thrown any one out of a 
carriage lately, and life flows tranquilly as the water in 
the pond which adorns our garden. Even my brain 
seems to stand still. I sit with my work in my hand 
and absolutely think of nothing." 

In connection with this, it is worth while referring to 
the extraordinary power Sonya had of being completely 
idle when not engaged in actual work. She often 
sdd she was never half so happy as during these periods 
of entire laziness, when it was an eflfbrt to rise from 
the dmr into which she had sunk. At such times the 
most trivial novel, the most mechanical needlework, a 
few cigarettes, and some tea, were all she required. It 
was probably very lucky for her that she had this 
capacity for reaction against excessive brain-work and 
the incessant mental excitement to which she sur- 
rendered herself between whiles. Perhaps it was the 
result of her Russo-German lineage, each race by turns 
getting the upper hand and causing these sudden 
changes. Nothing came of all her projected travels. 
Sonya spent that whole summer in Russia, and it was 
not until September that we met in Stockholm. 



DURING the following winter the sentiment 
element began to play a great part in Sonyj 
life. She found nothing to satisfy and interest h 
in her social surroundings. She was not engaged < 
any special literary work. Her lectures failed 
interest her much. Under these circumstances si 
was very often apt to become too introspective 
brooded over her destiny ; and felt bitterly that li 
had not afforded her what she most desired. 

She no longer talked of "twin-souls," or < 
a single love which would rule her whole life, bu 
instead, dreamt of a union between man and wife : 
which the intelligence of the one was the complemei 
to that of the other, so that together only could th< 
realise the full development of their genius. 

"Labouring together in love" was now her idea 
and she dreamt of finding a man who could, in th 
sense, become her second self. The certainty that si 
could never find that man in Sweden was the real origi 
of the dislike which she now took to this country — tl 
land to which she had come with such hope and expe< 



tation. This idea of collaboration was based on her 
secret craving to be in spiritual partnership with another 
human being, and on the real suflfering caused by her 
intellectual isolation. She could scarcely endure to 
work without having some one near her who breathed 
the same mental atmosphere as herself. 

Work in itself — ^the absolute search after scientific 
truth — did not satisfy her. She longed to be under- 
stood, met half way, admired and encouraged at every 
step she took. As each new idea sprang up in her 
brain she longed to convey it to some one else, to 
enrich with it another human being. It was not only 
humanity in the abstract, but some definite human 
being that she required ; some one who in return would 
share with her a creation of his own. 

Mathematician as she was, abstractions were not for 
her, for she was intensely personal in all her thoughts 
and judgments. 

Mittag Leffler often told her that her love of and 
desire for sympathy was a feminine weakness. Men 
of great genius had never been dependent in this way 
on others. But she asserted the contrary, enumerating 
a number of instances in which men had found their 
best inspiration in their love for a woman. Most of 
these were poets. Among scientists it was more 
difficult to prove her statement, but Sonya was never 
short of arguments to demonstrate her assertions. She 
put a clever construction upon facts which were not in 
themselves clear enough to support her. It is true that 
she succeeded in quoting several instances which went 
far to prove that a feeling of great isolation had been 


the cause of intense suffering to all profound minds. She 
pointed out how this great curse of isolation rested on 
man. He whose highest happiness it is to merge his 
own in another's being nevertheless must in the inner- 
most soul ever be alone. 

I remember that the spring of 1886 was a specis^^lly 
trying one for Sonya. The awakening of nature — 
the restlessness and growth, which she depicted so 
vividly in "Vae Victis," and later in "Vera Veront- 
zofF," exercised a strong influence upon her, and made 
her restless and nervous, full of longing and impatience. 

The light summer nights, so dear to me, only ener- 
vated Sonya. " The everlasting sunshine seems to 
promise so much," she would say, "but fuls to fulfil 
the promise. Earth remains cold — development is 
retarded just when it has commenced. The summer 
seems like a mirage — a will-o'-the-wisp which you 
cannot overtake. The fact that the long days and 
light nights begin so long before full summer comes 
is all the more irritating, because they seem to promise 
a joy they can never fulfil." 

Sonya could not work, but she maintained with more 
and more eagerness that work, especially scientific work, 
was no good ; it could neither affbrd pleasure nor cause 
humanity to progress. It was folly to waste one's 
youth on work, and especially was it unfortunate for 
a woman to be scientifically gifted, for she was thus 
drawn into a sphere which could never affbrd her 

As soon as the term ended that year, Sonya hastened 
on " the short and beautiful journey from Stockholm " 


to Malmo, and thence to the Continent. She went to 
Paris, and wrote thence only one letter to me. Con- 
trary to her custom, it is dated. 

cc ~~ 

142, Boulevard d'Enfer, June 26, 1886. 
Dear Ann Charlotte, — I have just received 
your letter. I reproach myself very much that I 
have not written to you before. I am ready to 
admit that I was a little jealous, and thought you 
no longer cared for me. I have only time for a 
few lines — if my letter is to be in time for to-day's 
post — to tell you that you are quite wrong in reproach- 
ing me for forgetting you when I am away. I have 
never felt so much how I love you and your brother. 
Every time I am pleased, I unconsciously think of you. 
I enjoy myself very much in Paris. Mathematicians 
and others make much of me {^font grand cas de moi)y but 
I long intensely to see the good-for-nothing brother and 
sister who are quite indispensable to my life. I cannot 
leave this before July 5th, and cannot get to Christiania 
in time for the Natural Science Congress. ' Can you 
meet me (in Copenhagen) so that we may go home 
together i Please reply at once. I have taken your 
book 2 to Jonas Lie. He speaks of you very kindly. 
He has returned my call, but had not yet read your 
book. He also thinks you have more talent for novel 
writing than for the drama. I hope to see Jonas Lie 
once more before I leave. I send you my love and 

' We had intended to meet in Norway and spend the rest 
of the summer together. 
* " A Summer Saga." 


long to see you again, my dear Ann Charlotte. Tout 

d toi. "SoNYA." 

As usual, Sonya could not tear herself away from 
Paris till the last minute. She arrived at Copenhagen 
on the last day of the Congress. I was accustomed to 
her sudden changes of mood, but this time the contrast 
was amazing between the mood she was now in and 
that which had ruled her during the whole of the spring, 
when she was in Stockholm. 

In Paris she had associated with Poincare and 
other mathematicians. While in conversation with 
them she had felt a desire awaken within her to occupy 
herself with problems the solution of which was ta 
bring her the highest fame, and to gain for her the 
highest prize of the French Academy of Science. 

It now seemed to her that nothing was worth living 
for but science. Everything else — personal happiness, 
love, and love of nature — day dreaming, all were vain. 
The search after scientific truth was now to her the 
highest and most desirable of things. Interchange of 
ideas with her intellectual peers, apart from any personal 
tie, was the loftiest of all intercourse. The joy of 
creation was upon her ; and now she entered one of 
those brilliant periods of her life, when she was hand- 
some, full of genius, sparkling with wit and humour. 

She arrived at Christiania at night, after three days* 
voyage from Havre. She had been very sea-sick all the 
time, but this did not prevent her — indefatigable as 
she always was when in good spirits — from joining the 
next day in a fete and picnic which lasted far into the 


night . All the most distinguished men present thronged 
around her, and she was always on such occasions most 
amiable and unassuming ; so girlish ly gentle in her I 
manner that she took every one by storm. ' 

We afterwards made a trip together through Tele- 
marken, where we visited Ullman's Peasant High School, 
in which Sonya became warmly interested. It was this 
visit that gave rise to the article on Peasant High 
Schools which she published in a Russian magazine. 
The success of the article was so great that it 
brought a large increase in the number of subscribers 
to the journal. 

From Siljord we walked up a mountain, and it 
was certainly the first time that Sonya had ever done 
any mountaineering. She was brisk and indefetigable 
in climbing, and was delighted with the beauty of nature. 
She was full of joy and energy, her pleasure being only 
now and then marred by fear of the cows near a 
setter^ or by the loose stones we had to climb over, 
when she uttered little childish shrieks and exclamations 
which much amused the rest of the party. She had a 
true appreciation of nature in so far as her imagination 
and feelings were stirred by its poetry, by the spirit of 
the scenery, and its light and shadow. But as she was | 
very near-sighte d, and objected, out of feminine vanity, j 
to wearing spectacles, the traditional mark of a blue I 
stocking, she never could see any details of the land- \ 
scape, and certainly would not have been able to tell \ 
what sort of trees or crops she had passed, or how \ 
the houses were built, &c. Notwithstanding this, ml 
some of her works already mentioned she succeeds not ; 


only in giving the spirit of the scenery, its souly so to 
say, but also exact and delicate descriptions of purely 
material details. This she did, not from her own obser- 
vation, but from purely theoretical knowledge. She had 
a very sound knowledge of natural history. She had 
helped her husband to translate Brehm's " Birds," and, 
as already mentioned, had studied paleontology and 
geology with him, and had been personally acquainted 
with the most eminent scientists of our time. 

But she was not a very minute observer when it con- 
cerned the small commonplace phenomena of nature. 
She had no love of detail, and did not possess a finely 
cultivated sense of beauty. The most unattractive 
landscape might be beautiful in her eyes if it suited 
her mood. And she could be indifferent to the most 
exquisite outlines and colours if she were personally out 
of sympathy with the scene. 

It was the same with the personal appearance of 

people. She was utterly devoid of all appreciation of 

purity of outline, harmony, proportion, complexion, and 

other outward requirements of beauty. People with 

whom she was in sympathy, and who possessed some of 

the external qualities she admired — these she considered 

beautiful, and all others plain. A fair person, man or 

woman, she could easily admire, but not a dark person. 

In this connection I cannot help mentioning the 

absence of all artistic appreciation in a nature otherwise 

\ so richly gifted. She had spent years of her life in 

j Paris, but had never visited the Louvre. Neither 

, pictures, sculptures, nor architecture ever attracted her 

•■ attention. 



In spite of this, she was much pleased with Norway, 
and liked the people we met. We had intended to con- 
tinue our trip in a cariole through the whole of Tele- 
marken, over Haukeli Fjall, and thence down to the 
west coast, where we meant to visit Alexander Kielland 
in Jaderen. But although Sonya had long dreamt 
about this journey, and was pleased with it ; and though 
she had for some time desired to make Kielland's 
acquaintance, another voice was now so strong within 
her that she could not resist it. So while we were on a 
steamer in one of the long inland lakes which run up 
into Telemarken, and which resemble fjords cut off from 
the sea, she suddenly decided to go back to Christiania 
and Sweden, and settle down quietly in the country to 
work. She left me, stepped into another steamer, and 
was taken by it back to Christiania by way of Skien. 

I could not remonstrate with her, nor did I blame 
her. I knew so well that when once the creative spirit 
makes its "»i«//" heard, its voice will be obeyed. 
Everything else, however otherwise attractive, becomes 
insignificant and unimportant. One is deaf and blind 
to one's surroundings, and one listens only to the inner 
voice — which calls more loudly than the roaring water- 
fall, or the hurricane at sea. Sonya's departure was, of 
course, a great disappointment to me. I continued the 
journey with a chance companion ; visited Kielland ; 
returned eastwards and took part in a fete at Sagatun's 
Peasant High School which would certainly have 
pleased Sonya as much as it did me, had she been 
mentally at liberty. 

I had several times noticed this trait in her. She 


might be engaged in the most lively conversation at 
a picnic or party, and apparently be entirely occupied 
by her surroundings, when suddenly a silence would fall 
upon her. Her look at such times became distant, and 
her replies, when addressed, wandering. She would 
suddenly say farewell, and no persuasions, no previous 
plans or arrangements, no consideration for others 
could detain her. Go home and work she must. 
I have a note from her written in the spring of 
the year which is characteristic of her in this con- 

We had arranged a driving expedition in the neigh- 
bourhood of Stockholm with a few other friends, when 
she repented at the last moment, and sent me the 
following note ' : — 

" Dear Anna Charlotte, — This morning I awoke 
with the desire to amuse myself, when suddenly my 
mother's father, the German pedant (that is to say the 
astronomer)^ appeared before me. He drew forth all 
the learned treatises and dissertations which I had in- 
tended studying in the Easter holidays, and reproached 
me most seriously for wasting my time so foolishly. 
His severe words put the gipsy grandmother in me 
to flight. Now I sit at my writing-table in dressing- 
gown and slippers, deeply immersed in mathema- 
tical study, and I have not the slightest desire to 
join your picnic. You are so merry that you 
can amuse yourselves just as well without me, so 

^ This note is written in Swedish, as are all the other letters 
which follow unless otherwise indicated. 



I hope you will enjoy yourselves, and pardon my 
ignoble desertion. 

" Yours affectionately, 


There had been an arrangement that we should meet 
again in Jamtland later in the summer, where Sonya was 
staying with my brother's femily. But scarcely had I 
arrived there before Sonya had to leave. She was called 
away by a telegram from her sister in Russia, who had 
a new and serious attack of illness. 

When Sonya returned again in September, she brought 
her little daughter, now eight years old, with her. She 
now lived for the first time in a flat of her own in 
Stockholm. She was tired of boarding-houses. SheJ 
was certainly most in^j6ferettt-to any kind of comfort 1 
and domestic conveniences, and did not care what furni- 1 
ture she had, nor what food she ate. But, at the same ^ 
time, she greatly wanted to be independent and master 
of her own time. She could no longer put up with the 
many ties which living with others always entails. So 
she got her friends to help her to choose a house, and a 
housekeeper who would also look after the child. She 
bought some furniture in the town, and ordered the 
remainder from Russia. She thus made a home for 
herself, which, however, retained the appearance of a 
temporary arrangement that might be upset at any 

The furniture sent from Russia was very characteris- 
tic. It came from her parents' home, and had the old 
aristocratic look about it. It had occupied a large 


saloon, and consisted of a long sofa which took up a whole 
wall ; a corner sofa (part of an old milieu), with floral 
decorations in the centre, and a deep armchair. It was 
all of rich carved mahogany, upholstered in bright red 
silk damask, now old and tattered. The stuffing was 
also spoiled and many of the springs broken. Sonya 
always intended to have this furniture repaired, newly 
polished, and newly upholstered, but this was never done, 
partly because, to Sonya with her bringing up, tattered 
furniture in a drawing-room was nothing astonishing, * 
and partly because she never felt sufficient interest in 
Stockholm to have things put to rights, feeling sure that 
her home there was but a halfway-house, and she need 
not therefore trouble to spend money on it. 

Sometimes, when she was in good spirits, a sudden 
frenzy would seize her, and she would amuse herself by 
ornamenting her small rooms with her own needlework. 

One day she sent me the following note : — 

*'Anna Charlotte! — Yesterday evening I had a 
clear proof that the critics are right who maintain that 
you have eyes for the bad and ugly but not for the good 
and beautiful. Each stain, each scratch, on one of my 
venerable old chairs, even if hidden by ten antima- 
cassars, is very certain to be discovered and denounced 
by you. But my really lovely new rocking-chair 
cushion, which was en Evidence the whole evening, and 
which endeavoured to draw your attention to itself, was 
not honoured by you with even a single glance ! 

" Your Sonya." 

' It may be remembered that in her childhood's home the 
nursery was papered with newspapers. 



SCARCELY had Sonya got her possessions into some 
kind of order in her quaint ramshackle house, than 
she was again summoned to Russia. She had to go in 
mid-winter by sea to Helsingfors, and thence by rail to 
St. Petersburg, in order to reach her suflfering sister, who 
continued to hover betwixt life and death. On such 
occasions Sonya was never frightened, nor was she to 
be deterred by any difficulty. She was tenderly devoted 
to her sister, and always ready to sacrifice herself for 
her sake. She left her little girl in my care during the 
two winter months she was absent. 

In that time I only received one letter from her, 
which is of no interest beyond the fact that it shows 
how sad her Christmas holidays were that year. 

"St. Petersburg, December i8, 1886. 
" Dear Anna Charlotte, — I arrived here yesterday 
evening. To-day I can scarcely write these few words 
to you. My sister is fearfully ill, though the doctor 
thinks her better than she was some days ago. A long 
wearing illness like this is truly one of the most terrible 



trials possible. She suffers untold agonies, and can 
hardly sleep or even breathe. ... I do not know how 
long I shall remain here. I long so much for Foufi " 
(her child), " and also for my work. My journey was 
very trying and wearisome. Loving messages to you 
all. Your aflfectionate friend, 


During the long days and nights that Sonya passed 
by her sister*s sick-bed, many thoughts and fantasies 
naturally filled her mind. Then it was that she began 
to ponder on the difference of " how it was, and how it 
might have been." She remembered with what dreams 
and infatuations she and her sister had commenced life ; 
young, handsome, and richly endowed as they both were. 
She realised how little life had given them of all that 
they had pictured to themselves in their day-dreams. 
life had indeed been to them rich and varied, but in 
the depths of both their hearts was a bitter feeling of 

Ah ! how utterly different, Sonya would say to herself, 
might it not have been but for the fatal errors both of 
them had committed ! From these thoughts was bred 
the idea of writing two parallel romances which should 
depict the history of a human being in two different 
ways. Early youth, with all its possibilities, should be 
described, and a series of pictures followed up to some 
important event. The one romance was to show the 
consequence of the choice made at the critical moment, 
and the other romance was to figure " what might have 
been " had that choice been difi^erent. " Who is there 


who has not some false step to regret," soliloquised 
Sonya, " and who has not often wished to begin life 
anew ? ** 

She wanted, in this work, to give the reality of life in 
a literary form, if only she had talent enough to produce 
it. She did not then know that she possessed the power 
of writing. So when she returned to Stockholm she 
tried to persuade me to undertake the romance. At 
that time I had begun a book called "Utomkring- 
aktenskap," which was to be the history of old maids ; 
of those who, for one reason or another, had never been 
called upon to become the head of a family. Their 
thoughts, their ideas of love and marriage, the interests 
and struggles of their lives, were to be described. In a 
word, it was to be the romance of women who are com- 
monly believed to have no romance at all. A sort of 
counterpart to " Mandvolk," in which Garborg tells 
how bachelors live. I wished to describe the life of the 
lonely women of my day. I had collected materials 
and types, and was much interested in my design. 

Then Sonya appeared with her idea; and so great 
was her influence upon me, so great her power of per- 
suasion, that I forsook my own child in order to adopt 
hers. A few letters I wrote to a mutual friend at this 
time will best describe the hot enthusiasm with which 
this new project had inspired both Sonya and myself. 

" February 2, 1887. 
" I am now writing a new novel, entitled * Utom- 
kring-aktenskap.' Only fancy ! I am so deep in it 
that the outside world, the world which is unconnected 


with my work, no longer exists for me. The state, 
physical and mental, in which one finds oneself when 
writing something new, is wonderful. A thousand 
doubts as to its merits, and as to one's own value, assail 
one. In the depths of one's heart there is the 
joy of possessing a secret world of one's very own, in 
which one is at home, and the outworld becomes a 
shadow. ... In the midst of all this I have a new idea. 
Sonya and I have got an inspiration. We are going to 
write a drama in two parts, which will occupy two 
evenings. That is to say, the idea is hers ; and I am to 
carry it out, and fill up the plot. I think the idea very 
original. The first portion will show 'How it was,' 
and the second * How it might have been.' In the 
first every one is unhappy, because, in real life, people 
generally hinder rather than further each other's happi- 
ness. In the second, the same personages assist each 
other, form a little ideal community, and are happy. Do 
not mention this to any one. I really do not know 
more of Sonya's idea than this mere sketch. To-morrow 
she is going to tell me her plot, and I shall be able to 
judge whether there be any dramatic possibilities in it. 
You will laugh at me for thus anticipating. I always 
do the finale from the start. I already see Sonya 
and myself collaborating in a work which will have a 
world-wide success, at least in this world, and perhaps 
in another. We are quite foolish about it. If we could 
only do it, it would reconcile us to everything. Sonya 
would forget that Sweden is the greatest Philistia on 
earth, and would no longer complain that she is wasting 
the best years of her life here. And I — well, I should 


forget all that I am brooding over. You will of course 
exclaim : What children you are ! Yes, thank God ! 
that is just what we are. But fortunately there exists 
a realm better than all the kingdoms of earth, a king- 
dom of which we have the key — ^the realm of the 
imagination, where he who will may rule, and where 
everything is precisely as you wish it to be. But 
perhaps Sonya's plot, which was at first intended for a 
novel, will not do for a drama, and I could not write a 
novel upon some one else's plan, for in a novel you are in 
much closer relation to your work than in a drama." 

I wrote on February loth : — 

"Sonya is overjoyed at this new project, and the 
fresh possibility in her life. She says she now under- 
stands how a man grows more and more deeply in love 
with the mother of his children. Of course, / am the 
mother, because I am to bring tlus mental oflspring into 
the world ; and she is so devoted to me that it makes 
me happy to see her beaming eyes. We enjoy ourselves 
immensely. I do not think two women have ever 
enjoyed each other's society so much as we do — and 
we shall be the first example in literature of women- 
collaborators. I have never been so kindled by an idea 
as by this one. As soon as Sonya told me of it, it ran 
through me like lightning down a conductor. I was 
thunderstruck ! She told me her plot on the 3rd, but 
it had a Russian mise en sc^ne. When she left me, I 
sat up half the night in the dark in my rocking-ch^r, 
and when I went to bed the whole plot lay clear before 
me. On Friday I talked it over with Sonya, and on 



Saturday I began to write. Now the whole first portion, 
a prologue and five acts, is sketched out. That is to 
say, I did it in five days, working only two hours a 
day, for when working at high pressure one cannot 
sustain it long. I have never done anything so quickly. 
Generally I contemplate an idea for months, even for 
years, before I begin to write." 

'' April 21 St. 
" The most pleasant thing about this work is, as you 
will have noticed, that I admire it so much ! This is 
the result of collaboration. I believe in it because it is 
Sonya's idea, for naturally it is much easier for me to 
believe that she is inspired, than to believe such a thing 
of myself. She, on the other hand, admires my work, 
and the spirit and artistic form which I give to it. 
It would be impossible to have a better arrangement. 
It is delightfiil to be able to admire one's own work 
without conceit. I have never felt so much confidence 
or so little misgiving. If we fail, I think we must 
commit suicide ! . . . You wish to know Madame 
Kovalevsky's share in the work. It is quite true that 
she has not written a single sentence. But she has not 
. only originated the whole, but has also thought out the 
contents of each act. She has given me besides several 
psychological traits for the building up of the characters. 
We read daily what I have done, and she makes remarks 
and offers suggestions. She asks to hear it over and 
over ag^n, as children ask for their favourite tales. 
She thinks nothing in all the world could be more 


On March 9th we read the play aloud for the first 

time to our intimate friends. Up to that moment our 

illusion and joy had been continually rising higher and 

higher. Sonya had such overwhelming fits of exultation 

that she was obliged to go out into the forest to shout 

out her delight under the open sky. Every day, when 

we had finished our work, we took long walks in Lill 

Jans* wood, close to our homes in the town. There 

Sonya jumped over stones and hillocks ; took me in 

her arms and danced about ; exclaiming that life was 

beautiful, and the future fascinating and full of promise ! 

She cherished the most exaggerated hopes of the success 

of our drama. She fancied it would march in triumph 

from capital to capital in Europe. Such a new and 

original idea could not but prove a triumph in literature. 

*'This is how it might have been." It is a dream which 

every one dreams ; and seen in the objective light lent by 

the stage, it could not fail to prove entrancing. The very 

essence of the plot was the glorification of love as the 

only important thing in life ; and the social community 

of the future lay in the vista it opened up, a community 

in which all should live for all, even as every two 

should live for each other. In this there was much of 

Sonya's own deepest feelings and her ideal of happiness. 

The motto of the first part was to be, " What shall it 
profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his 
own soul ? " and of the second part, " He who loses his 
life shall save it." 

But after the first reading to our friends, the work 
entered into a new phase. Up to then we had seen it 
as it might have been rather than as it was. Now all 


the faults and shortcomings of the work, which had 
been written in such feverish haste, became apparent. 
And then began the tedious process of revision. 

During the whole of that winter, Sonya could not 
bring herself to think of her great mathematical work, 
though the date of the competition for the Prix Bordin 
was already fixed. She ought to have been working 
for it with the utmost diligence. Mittag Leffler, who 
always felt a kind of responsibility for her, and knew 
that it was of the greatest importance to her to gain 
the prize, was in despair when, each time he called 
upon her, he found her embroidering in her drawing- 
room. Just then she had a perfect mania for needle- 
work. Like the Ingeborg of ancient romance, weaving 
the deeds of her heroes, so she embroidered in silk and 
wool the drama she could not indite with pen and 
ink. While her needle mechanically went in and out, 
her imagination was at work, and one scene after the 
other was pictured in her mind. 

I, for my part, worked with the pen, and when we 
found that needle and pen had arrived at the same 
result, our joy was great. It certainly reconciled us to 
the differences of opinion to which we were sometimes 
led, when our imaginations worked in opposite direc- 
tions. But this more frequently took place during revi- 
sion, than in the first draft of our play. Many were 
the crises through which the drama passed at this period. 

The following little note from Sonya is in answer to 
some communication from me on one of these occasions : 

" My poor child ! how often it has hovered between 
life and death ! What has happened now } Have you 

HOW IT WAS. loi 

been inspired, or the reverse? I am inclined to 
think that you wrote to me as you did out of pure 
wickedness, so that I might lecture badly to-day ! 
How can you imagine that I can think about my 
lecture when I know that my poor little bantling is 
going through such a dangerous crisis ! I am glad I 
have played the part of father, so that I can feel what 
poor men must suffer from this miserable necessity of 
revision. I wish I could see Strindberg, and shake 
hands with him for once ! . . /' 

I wrote about our drama on the ist of April to a 
friend : — 

" I have tried to introduce a little change into the 
method of our work. To Sonya's great despair I have 
forbidden her my study until I have rewritten the 
whole of the second part of the play. I was too 
much interrupted and worried before by the incessant 
collaboration. I lost both the survey of the whole, 
and all interest and intimate sympathy with my cha- 
racters. The desire for solitude which is so strong 
in me has been denied me. My personality has been 
merged in Sonya's by her powerful influence, and still 
her individuality has not had full expression. The 
whole strength of my working-power lies in solitude, 
and this is a chief objection to collaboration even with 
such a sympathetic nature as Sonya's. She is the 
complement of my nature. She is ' Alice ' in the 
* Struggle for Happiness,' who cannot create anything 
nor embrace anything with her whole heart, unless she 
can share it with another. Everything she has produced 
in mathematical work has been influenced by some one 


else, and even her lectures are only successful when 
Gosta is present." 

Sonya often jestingly acknowledged this dependence 
on her surroundings, and once wrote a note to my 
brother, saying : — 

" Dear Professor, — Shall you come to my lecture 
to-morrow ? Do not, if you are tired. I will try to 
lecture as well as if you were there." 

Once, when I had sent her some birthday wishes in 
rhyme, she replied in the following verses, characteristic 
of herself, in which, as often before, she terms herself a 
chameleon — 


The changeful chameleon as every one knows, 
As long as he sits alone in his nook. 
Is ugly and dull and grey in his look ; 
But in a good light how brightly he glows. 

**No beauty has he, but he always reflects 
What around him exists of beautiful hue. 
He can shimmer alike in gold, green, or blue, 
And of all his friends* hues there is none he rejects. 

** In this creature, meseems, my likeness I sec, 
For, dearest of friends, wherever you go 
I go in your steps ; for it is aye so, 
That I can't stay behind, nor be turned back from thee. 

" To a friend such as you all my reverence is due, 
You write and you paint and you draw and what not. 
These things are to me but rubbish and rot, 
But, oh mercy on me ! you poetize too ! " 

In the character of " Alice," Sonya, as I have already 
remarked, thought to reproduce herself. Indeed, some 

HOW IT WAS. 103 

of the sentences in the book are so characteristic of her 
that they 'are almost reproductions of words which she 
actually spoke. In the great scene with Hjalmar (ist 
part, act iii. sc. 2), she has tried to give expression to 
her own ardent desire for tenderness, and union with 
another ; to her despairing feeling of loneliness, and the 
peculiar want of self-confidence which was always aroused 
in her when she felt herself less beloved than she desired. 
" Alice " says : " I am well accustomed to see others 
more beloved than myself. At school it was always 
s^d that I was the most gifted of the pupils, but I felt the 
irony of fate which bestowed upon me so many gifts only 
to make me feel what I might have been to others. 
But no one cared for my affection : I do not ask for 
much — very little — just sufficient to prevent any one 
from invervening betwixt me and the one I love. I 
have all my life wished to be first with some one. . . . 
Let me only show you what I can be when I am loved ! 
Poor me ! I am not, after all, utterly without resources. 
Look at me ! Am I handsome ? Yes, if I am loved. 
Then I become beautiful, not otherwise ! Am I good ? 
Yes ! if any one is fond of me I am goodness itself ! 
Am I unselfish ? I can be so utterly unselfish that my 
every thought is bound up in another ! " 

Thus touchingly and passionately could the admired 
and celebrated Sonya Kovalevsky entreat for a devotion 
which she never received. Not once was she the first 
nor the only one with any person, though she longed 
so passionately for this boon, and though one would 
have imagined she possessed all the gifts which could 
win and preserve such love. 


"Alice" desires to participate in all "Karl's" 
interests. She grows bitter when, for various reasons, 
he draws back from her. She will not listen to reason. 
She tries to force him to put aside all other considera- 
tions and be true both to himself and his calling, and 
to his love. This is Sonya through and through. 

When, in the second part of the drama, "Alice" 
breaks violently with her past life, and sacrifices riches 
and position to live and work with " Karl " in a garret, 
it is agdn Sonya as she pictured to herself what she 
would have been had she had the good luck to have such 
a choice. I do not doubt that if she had written the 
scene in which " Karl's " happiness is depicted, it would 
have been stronger, and have received a more personal 
and warmer colouring than is now the case. 

"Alice's" dreams about the People's Palace at Herr- 
hanu^ and about the great Labour Association ; her 
remark " How diflferent it would have all been had 
we received the same education, and had the same 
social traditions, so as to form a band of comrades," 
describe also Sonya's dreams, and are her own identical 

Sonya idealised the Socialism of the future, and often 
described, in glowing and eloquent words, a happy 
commonwealth in which every one felt bound to each 
other by a common lot ; a commonwealth in which 
there were no opposing interests ; where the happiness 
of one would be the happiness of all ; the sufferings of 
one the sufferings of all. 

After her death, a friend of hers told me that once, 
when her husband telegraphed to Sonya that he believed 


HOW IT WAS. 105 

one of his speculations had resulted in a vast fortune, 
she immediately planned a socialistic community. It 
was her favourite dream, and she sought to give 
expression to it in the second part of the drama, the 
"Struggle for Happiness." Her dream was of both 
personal happiness and the happiness of mankind in 

It is a pleasure to me to quote some sympathetic 
words of Hermann Bang, in a short sketch which he 
wrote of her whom we have lost, and published in a 
Danish review. Speaking of the above-mentioned 
drama, he says : — 

" I admit that I love this strange play, which, with 
mathematical exactness, depicts the almighty power of 
love — and proves that love, and love alone, is every- 
thing in life, and alone decides growth or decay. In 
love alone lies development and strength, and alone 
through love can duty be fulfilled." 

No one could have better formulated than in the 
above words the essence of the dramas which were the 
" confession " of Sonya's life. It only grieves me that 
they were written too late for her to feel the joy of 
being so fully understood. 

With her characteristic wish to explain scientifically 
all the phenomena of life, Sonya had also invented a 
whole theory to account for the idea of this double 
drama. ' She wrote the outline of an unfinished prologue, 
which, even now and in spite of its fragmentary form, 
will, like everything which fell from her pen, be read 
with interest. She sent it to me accompanied by the 
following lines : — 


" Dear Carlot, — I cannot help it. I cannot make 
it any better. But if you can link my stray thoughts 
together, it is well. If you cannot, we must let the 
book appear without a prologue. If any one attacks 
us we can expl^n later. Your Sonya." 

The prologue ran thus : — 

" Every one, perhaps, has at one time or another 
given his imagination play, and pictured how different 
his life would have been had he acted differently at 
some decisive moment. In everyday life one often 
realises that one is the slave of outward circumstance. 
The even tenor of everyday life binds one with a thou- 
sand invisible links. Every one fills a given sphere 
in life. Every one has certain definite duties which are 
fulfilled almost automatically without any overstrain 
of energies. It matters little whether to-morrow one 
is a little better or a little worse, a little stronger or 
a little weaker, or a little more or less gifted than to- 
day. One cannot divert the current of one's life from 
the channel it has taken, without, at the same time, 
presupposing the possession of qualities so unlike those 
which one really has, that it is impossible, except in a 
dream, to imagine oneself possessed of them without 
losing one's feeling of identity. But when remembering 
certdn moments in one's life, the case is altogether 
diflTerent. At those moments the illusions of free-will 
become strangely intense. One fancies that if one could 
have tried a little harder, had been cleverer or more 
decided, one might have turned one's destiny into another 
channel. On much the same ground stands our belief 

HOW IT WAS. 107 

in miracles. None but a mad person can think of 
asking the Creator to change the great laws of nature, 
to awaken, for instance, the dead. But I should like to 
put a test-question to orthodox people. Have they 
never, at any time, asked for a small change in the 
course of events, such, for instance, as recovery from 
sickness ? Often a small miracle seems so much easier 
than a great one, and it requires quite an effort of the 
mind to realise that both are precisely alike. So it is 
with our thoughts about ourselves. It is almost 
impossible for me to realise what I should feel if I woke 
one morning with a voice like Jenny Lind's, with a 
body supple and strong as * * * or with a * * * ; but I 
can easily imagine that my complexion is * * *. It is 
just such a critical moment which the authors attempt to 
describe in these dramas. 'Karl,' according to their 
idea, is one and the same person in either play, only 
gifted with such slight differences of character as one 
can easily imagine without losing the sense of individu- 
ality. In ordinary life such differences would scarcely 
be noticeable. Under most circumstances they would 
have no influence on the decision between two actions. 
Suppose, for instance, that all had gone well with our 
hero and heroine, that the father had lived a couple of 
years longer ; in that case ' Karl,' as described in either 
drama, would have had no different fate. The diver- 
gence of life under such circumstances would have been 
so small that it would ndt have affected the main 
current of events. But, as it was, a decisive moment 
arrived at a time that two different duties seemed to 
call in two different directions, and it was the slight 


difFerence in character, above alluded to, that decided 
the choice of opposite ways, and, once made, caused 
their fates to diverge without ever meeting again. Or 
let us choose an example from mechanics. Think for a 
moment of a common pendulum, or, if you prefer it, a 
small heavy ball hanging, by a very slight but supple 
string, from a nail. If you give the ball a little touch, 
it will swing to one side, describe a given arc of a 
circle, rise to a given height, and return ag^n, but 
not to stop at the starting-point; it swings to about 
the same height on the opposite side, and continues to 
oscillate for some time. Had the original impulse been 
a little stronger, the ball would have swung higher, 
and the rest of the movement would have been on the 
same scale. But if the original impulse has been so 
strong as to allow the ball to pass the highest point 
which the length of string permits, the ball will not 
swing as before, but will continue its course on the other 
side of the periphery, and in this case the movement 
would be utterly changed in character. 

" Two similar impulses, one of which, however, is 
weaker and the other stronger than a certain average 
force, always produce two entirely different results. In 
mechanics one is accustomed to study just the extreme 
and critical moments, and it is evident, that if you want 
to gain a clear idea about phenomena, it is all-important 
to study them when near the critical point of balance. 
The authors of the double drama have deemed it might 
be interesting to depict the effect of such a critical 
moment on two individuals, similar but not identical. 
In order to understand the play perfectly, * Karl,' in the 

HOW IT WAS. 109 

two parts, must not be imagined as one and the same 
person. But the difFerence in the two characters, 
though the one is rather more ideal than the other, and 
better able to distinguish between important and unim- 
portant things, is so small that in everyday life it would 
be almost impossible to distinguish one Karl from the 
other. Had all gone well, had his father lived till his 
son had an established position, no doubt the destiny of 
the two Karls would have been almost identical. They 
would have become celebrated as scientists, married at 
the same age, and made the same choice. But trial 
comes at the critical moment, and the almost impercep- 
tible advantage which the one has over the others 
enables him to surmount the critical point, while the 
other falls heavily back.*' 

The revision of the work took much longer than the 
original composition, and when Sonya and I separated 
for the summer, it was not yet concluded. 



SONYA and I had intended to spend the summer 
together. The new literary partners, "Korvin- 
Leffler " (Sony a and her biographer), intended to go 
to Berlin and Paris in order to make acquaintances 
in the literary and theatrical world, which might prove 
useful to them later on when the offspring of their 
genius was ready to make its triumphal progress through 
the world. 

But all these dreams fell to the ground. 

It had been decided that we should start in the middle 
of May. We were as happy in the prospect as though 
the whole world of success and interest lay safely before 
us, when once more sad news from Russia frustrated 
all our plans. Sonya's sister was again dangerously ill. 
Her husband had been forced to return unexpectedly to 
Paris. There was no help for it ; Sonya was obliged to 
take a sorrowful journey to a painful sick-bed. Any 
thought of pleasure was out of the question, and all 
her letters of that summer show that she was in very 
bad spirits. She writes : — 

" My sister continues in the same state as last winter. 



She suffers much, and looks desperately ill. She has not 
strength enough to turn from side to side, but yet I 
think she is not quite without hope of recovery. She 
is so glad I am with her. She says constantly she must 
have died if I had refused to come. ... I feel so 
depressed that I cannot write more to-day. The only 
thing that is pleasant is to think of our * fairy dream ' 
and of * Va Victis.' " 

This alludes to the plan we had formed in the spring 
of uniting the works together. The " fairy dream " 
was mine, and was to be called " When Death Shall be 
no More." When I mentioned the idea to Sonya she 
seized upon it so vehemently, and worked it out in her 
imagination so fully, that she was a partner in its pro- 
duction. "Vse Victis'* was her creation, and was to 
be a novel. Its idea and plot were very characteristic 
of her, but she did not think she could write it alone. 
She wrote to me : — 

" You tell me I am of some importance in your life 
— and yet you have so much more than ever I had. 
Think, then, what you must be to me, who am so lonely, 
and who feel myself poor in affection and friendship.*' 

Still later she wrote : — 

" Have you never noticed that there are periods when 
everything in life, both for oneself and one's friends, 
seems to be covered as with a black veil ? One hardly 
recognises one's dearest and nearest. The sweetest 
strawberries turn to dust in your mouth. The wood- 
fairy says that this always happens to little children 
who pay truant visits to his haunts. Perhaps we two 
had no permission to spend this summer together — 


and yet we had worked so hard during last winter ! 
I try, however, to make use of every moment I can 
spare. I think out my mathematical problem, and 

muse deeply upon e's disjointed treatise — so full 

as it is of genius. I am too depressed, and have no 
energy to do literary work. Everything seems so faded 
and uninteresting. At such moments mathematics are a 
relief. It is such a comfort to feel that there is another 
world outside oneself. One really does want to talk 
of something besides oneself, only you, my dear and 
precious friend, are always the same — and always dear. 
I can scarcely express in words how much I long for 
you. You are the dearest thing I possess, and our 
friendship must at least last all my life. I do not know 
what I should do without it." 

Later on she wrote in French : — 

"My brother-in-law has decided to remain in St. 
Petersburg till my sister is able to accompany him to Paris. 
I have thus sacrificed myself quite uselessly. If I knew 
you were free, I would join you in Paris, though I must 
say all this has quite taken away any wish to enjoy 
myself. I feel rather anxious to stay somewhere where 
I could write in peace. I have such a strong desire for 
some kind of work, either literary or mathematical. I 
want to lose myself in work, so as to forget myself and 
every one else. If you wanted to meet me as much as I 
want to meet you, I would go anywhere to join you. 
But if your summer is already, as is probable, planned 
out, I shall stay here, most likely, a couple of weeks 
and then return with Foufi to Stockholm, where I 
intend to live on the islands and to work with all my 


might. I do not wish to make any arrangements for 
any pleasures. You know what a fatalist I am. I fancy 
I see in the stars that I am to expect no happiness this 
sununer. It is better therefore to be resigned, and to use 
no more vain endeavours. . . . Yesterday, I wrote the 
beginning of *Vse Victis.' / shall most likely never 
finish it.^ Perhaps what I have written to-day may 
nevertheless be useful to you as material. In order to 
write about mathematics one must feel more at home 
than I do at this moment." 

In a letter written later on when Sonya had settled 
down in the islands near Stockholm, she writes : — 

" I enjoyed the last few weeks in Russia very much. 
I made some rather interesting acquaintances. But a 
conservative old mathematical pedant like me cannot 
write well away from home. So I returned to old 
Sweden with my books and my papers." 

Later, from the same place : — 

" I have been thinking a great deal about our firstborn. 
But, to tell the truth, I find very many faults in the poor 
little creature, especially in my share in its composition. 
As though in ridicule, fate has brought me into contact 
with three scientific men this year, all very interesting in 
different ways. One of them, in my opinion the least 
gifted, has already been successful. The other, who is 
full of genius in some ways and in others very borne^ 
has just begun to struggle for fame. What the result 
will be I cannot say. The third, an interesting type, is 
already helplessly broken, mentally and physically, but 
most interesting for an author to study. The history 

' The italics are the biographer's. 



of these three men — in all its simplicity — seems to 
me much fiiller than all we have written about *Karl * 
and * Alice/ In accordance with your brother*s wish, I 
have brought a volume of Runneberg's poems to study 
here (* Hanna,* * Nadeschda/ &c.), and I am now read- 
ing them. But I do not care for them much. They 
have all the same fault as Haydn*s * Creation/ The 
devil is missing, and without some touch of this high 
power there is no harmony in this world." 

During this summer I received a jesting letter from 
Sonya, which I quote because it gives a fair sample 
of her satirical mood. As she did not shine in the 
habit of order in the keeping of her papers and other 
matters, she often received from me, in confidential 
letters, some sharp admonitions to be careful not to 
let such letters lie about. She consequently wrote me 
the following note : — 

** Poor Anna Charlotte ! — It seems to me 
that it is becoming a chronic malady with you to 
think that your letters are going to fall into other 
hands. The symptoms are getting more and more 
serious each time ! I think any one who writes 
such an unintelligible hand as yours ought not to be 
uneasy about this matter. I assure you that, with 
the exception of the few people personally interested 
in what you write, you would hardly find any one 
who would have the patience to decipher your pattes^ 
de-mouche. As to your last letter, it was of course lost 
in the post. When I finally did get it from the Dead 
Letter Office, I hastened to leave it open on the table 


for the benefit of my maid and the whole G family 

They ail thought the letter rather well written, and that 
it cont^ned rather interesting things. — ^To-day I intend 
to call on Professor Montan, in order to ask about 
translations from the Polish. I shall take your letter 
with me, and try my best to lose it in his reception 
room. I can do nothing better to make you a celebrity. 

" Your devoted 


When we met in the autumn we began the final re- 
vision of our double drama. But the work was purely 
mechanical ; all the joy, the illusion, the enthusiasm, 
had already vanished. By November the printing had 
begun, and we oflfered the work to the " Dramatic 

The correction of the proofs occupied us till the 
winter. At Christmas the drama was published, and 
was cut to bits by Virsen and the Stockholm Dagblady 
but shortly afterwards it was refused by the ** Dramatic 
Theatre." A note from Sonya on receiving the news of 
this check shows that she took it lightly : — 

" What are you going to do now, you faithless, cruel 
mother? Divide the Siamese twins, and put asunder 
what nature has joined ? You make me shudder. 
Strinberg was right in his opinion about woman ; but 
in spite of this I will come to you this evening, you 
horrid creature ! " 

The fact was that we were rather indifferent as to the 
fate of the work now that we had done with it. We 
were so far alike that we only cared about ** generations 


yet unborn," and we were already dreaming of produc- 
tions which were to have far better success. The diflference 
between us was, that Sonya still clung with all her heart 
to the idea of collaboration, while in mine the idea was 
already dead, though I did not dare to acknowledge this 
to her. Who knows if it were not a secret craving to 
be once more mistress of my own thoughts and words 
which unconsciously contributed to the decision I now 
arrived at — that was, to go to Italy for the winter ? This 
journey had been often discussed, but Sonya had always 
been against it as a treachery to our friendship. But 
that friendship, though in one way so precious to me and 
fecund with delight, now began to oppress me by its exac- 
I tions. I mention the fact in order to throw light on 
I the later tragedy of Sonya's love. Her idealistic nature 
I sought for a completeness which life seldom gives, that 
perfect union of two souls which she never realised either 
in friendship or in love. Her friendship, as afterwards 
also her love, was tyrannical, in the sense that she would 
not suffer in any one she loved a feeling, an affection, or 
a thought, of which she was not the object. She wished 
to have such full possession of the person of whom she 
was fond as almost to exclude the possibility of indi- 
vidual life in that other person. Even in love, this is 
almost impossible, at least as regards two highly developed 
personalities, and naturally it is still more difficult in 

L friendship. The very foundation of friendship must be 
the individual liberty of each friend. 

To this peculiarity in Sonya is perhaps owing the 
fact that maternal love did not satisfy her craving for 
tenderness. A child does not love in the same way in 


which it is loved. It does not enter into the interests 
of its parent. It takes more than it gives. Sonya 
desired and demanded sel f-sac rifici n g d^ 

I do not mean that she exacted more than she gave in 
her relations with those of whom she was fond. On 
the contrary, she gave full meed of sympathy, and was 
prepared to sacrifice herself to any extent. But she 7 
expected to get back as much as she gave. She wished ' 
to be met half-way ; and she considered herself of equal I 
importance to her friend, as he or she was to her. | 

During this same autumn, besides literary dis- 
appointment, Sonya was called upon to bear a great 
and bitter sorrow. The sister to whose sick-bed she 
had so often hurried over land and sea, often sacrificing 
her own plans and wishes to the desire of being with 
her at the last, had been taken to Paris for an operation. 

Sonya was at the time tied to the University by 
her lectures, but, had her sister sent for her, she would 
have gone even if it had cost her her professorship and 
livelihood. But she was told that there was no danger 
in the operation, and every hope of full recovery. She 
had already received news that the operation had been 
successful, when a telegram suddenly announced her 
sister's death. Inflammation of the lungs had super- 
vened, and the weak state of the patient had caused her 
to sink almost immediately. 

Sonya, as we learn in her ** Sisters Rajevsky," had 
always loved this sister most dearly. To the sorrow of 
having lost her for ever, and of not being with her at 
the last, was added to her grief at the sad tragedy of 
Anyuta's life. She who had once been so brilliant, sq 


greatly admired, had been consumed by a most painful 
illness ; disappointed of everything she had hoped for ; 
unhappy in all her personal circumstances, hampered in 
her career as an author, and was now cut off by inexorable 
death in the very flower of her age ! To such a brood- 
ing nature as Sonya's all sufferings were magnified 
because she generalised them. Any misfortune which 
befell herself or those she loved became the misfortune 
of humanity. She not only bore her own sorrows, but 
those of the world at large. 

It pdned her much to think that with her sister's 
death the last link was broken which united her to the 
home of her childhood. 

" There is no one now who remembers me as the little 
Sonya," she said. " To all of you I am Madame 
Kovalevsky, the celebrated scientist. To no one am I 
any longer the little shy, reserved, neglected Sonya of 
my childhood." 

But the great self-command she possessed and the 
power of concealing her feelings enabled her to appear, 
in society, much the same as before. She did not even 
wear mourning. Her sister, like herself, had had a great 
aversion to crape, and Sonya considered it would be a 
false conventionality to mourn for her in that manner. 
But her inner anguish showed itself in intense irritability. 
She would cry at the least annoyance, for instance, if 
any one happened to tread on her foot, or if she tore 
her dress. She would burst into a flood of angry tears 
at the least contradiction. In analysing herself, as she 
always did, she said : — 

" My great sorrow, which I try to control, shows 


itself in such petty irritability. It is the tendency of 
life in general to turn everything into pettiness, and 

r one never has the consolation of a great and complete 


Sonya hoped that her sister might somehow appear 
to her, either in dreams or in an apparition. She had 
all her life maintained that she believed in dreams as 
portents, as we have already learned from the friend of 
her youth, and she believed also in forebodings and 
revelations of other kinds. 

She knew long before whether a year was to be lucky 
or unlucky. She knew that the year 1887 would bring 
her both a great sorrow and a great joy. She already 
foretold that the year 1888 would be one of the 
happiest of her life, and that 1890 would be the 
saddest. 1891 was to bring her the Dawn of Light — 
this dawn was that of death. 

Sonya had always troubled dreams when any one 
whom she loved was suffering, or when something 
happened which would bring her sorrow. The last 
night before her sister's death she had very bad dreams 
— ^to her great astonishment, for she had just had good 
news. But when the telegram arrived announcing 
Anyuta's death, Sonya said she ought to have been 
prepared for it. 

But the vision or apparition of her sister, which she 
expected and hoped for after death, never came. 



I LEFT Sonya in January, 1888, and we did not 
meet again till September, 1889. Two yeirs had 
not passed, yet both our lives during those months had 
gone through their most decisive crises. We met again 
like changed beings. We could not be as intimate as 
formerly, for each of us was engrossed in her own life's 
drama, and neither could speak to the other of the 
conflicts through which she had passed. 

As it is partly the object of this Memoir to relate 
what Sonya said about herself, I shall, with regard tc 
this last tragedy of her life, narrate only what she 
herself told me. It will naturally be imperfect and 
indefinite in detail, because she no longer allowed me 
to read her inmost heart. 

Shortly after my departure, she had made the acquaint- 
ance of a man whom she said was, in her opinion, more 
full of genius than any one she had ever known. She 
had from the first been attracted to him by the strongest 
sympathy and admiration, which, little by little, had 
developed into passionate love. He, on his side, had 
admired her warmly, and had asked her to be his wife. 



But she felt that he was drawn to her more by admira- 
tion than by love, and naturally refused to marry him. 
She now threw her whole soul into the endeavour to 
win him completely, and awaken in his soul the same 
devotion which she felt for him. In this struggle we 
have the story of her life during the long period in 
which we were separated. She worried herself and the 
man she loved with exactions. She made "scenes"; 
was jealous and irritable. 

They parted several times in anger and bitterness, 
and then Sonya was torn to pieces by despair. They 
met again, forgave each other, and parted once more 
as violently as ever. 

Her letters to me at this time show very little of 
her inner life. She was reserved by nature where her 
deepest feelings were concerned, and more especially 
when touched by sorrow. It was only under the 
influence of personal intercourse that she melted into 
confidence. It was only on my return to Sweden that 
I learned what I know of this portion of her life. 

Shortly after my departure from Stockholm in 1888 
she wrote : — 

" This story about E." (referring to an incident in 
her circle in Stockholm) " inclines me to take up again, 
directly I regain my freedom, my first-born *Privat- 
docenten.' I believe if I re-wrote it I could make 
something good of it. I really feel quite proud that 
while yet quite young I understood so well certain 
sides of himian life. When I now analyse E.'s feel- 
ings to G., I feel I have depicted the relations 
between my * Lecturer ' and his professor admirably. 



What a capital opportunity I shall have for preaching 
socialism ! Or at least for developing the theory that 
the democratic but not socialistic state is the greatest 
orror possible." 

Shortly after this she writes : — 

"Thanks for your letter from Dresden. I am 
always so glad when I get a few lines from you, though 
your letter on the whole gave me a melancholy impres- 
sion. What is to be done ? Life is sad. One never 
gets what one likes, or what one thinks one needs. 
Everything else, but not just that one thing. Some one 
else will get the happiness I desire, and get it altogether 
, unwished for. The service in Life's Banquet is badly 
managed. All the guests seem to get the portions 
destined for others. Nansen, at least, seems to have 
got the position he desired. He is so kindled with 
enthusiasm about his voyage to Greenland, that no 
* sweetheart ' could, in his eyes, be of any importance 
compared with it. So you must refrain from writing 
to him the brilliant idea which occurred to you. For 
I am afraid you do not know that not even the 

knowledge that would keep him from visiting 

the souls of dead heroes which the Lapland Saga 
says hover above the icefields of Greenland. For 
my part, I work as hard as ever I can at my prize- 
treatise, but without any special enthusiasm or pleasure." 

Sonya had shortly before made the acquaintance of 
Frithiof Nansen, while he had been in Stockholm. His 
whole personality and his bold enterprise had made a 
great impression on her. They had met only once, 
but they were so delighted with each other during that 


one meeting, that later on they both thought it would 
have been possible, had nothing else intervened to dim 
the impression, that it might have deepened into some- 
thing more decided and life-long. 

In Sonya*s next letter, in January, 1888, she writes 
again on the same subject : — 

"I am at this moment under the influence of the 
most exciting book I have ever read. I got to-day 
from Nansen a little pamphlet with a short outline 
of his projected wanderings through the icefields of 
Greenland. I got quite depressed by it. He has 
just received a subscription of 5,000 kroner from 
a Danish merchant named Gamel, and I suppose 
no power on earth could now keep him back. The 
sketch is so interesting that I shall send it to you as 
soon as you forward me a definite address, but only 
on the understanding that I get it back immediately. 
When you have read it you will have a very feir idea 
of the man himself. To-day I had a talk with B. 
about him. . B. thinks his works full of genius. He 
also thinks him much too good to risk his life in 

In her next letter appears the first sign of the crisis 
now impending in her life. The letter is not dated, 
but was written in March of the same year. She had 
now made the acquaintance of the man who was to 
exercise an all-powerful influence on the rest of her 
career. She writes : — 

" You also ask me other questions, which I do not 
even wish to answer to myself — so you must excuse me 
if I do not answer them to you. I am afraid of making 



plans for the future. The only thing that unfortu- 
nately is certain, is that I must spend two months and 
a half at Stockholm. But perhaps it is just as well for 
me to realise how really I am alone in life.*' 

I had written to Sonya that I had heard from some 
Scandinavians in Rome that Nansen had been already 
engaged for several years. In answer to this, I received 
the following merry letter : — 

"Dear Anna Charlotte, — 

" ' Souvent femme varie, 
Bien fole est qui s'y fie.* 

If I had received your letter with its awful news a 
few weeks ago, it would no doubt have broken my 
heart. But now I confess, to my shame, that when I 
read your deeply sympathetic lines yesterday, I could 
not help bursting out into laughter. It was a hard 
day for me, for burly M. was leaving that evening. 
I hope some of the family have already told- you of the 
change in our plans, so that I need not mention that 
subject to-day. On the whole, I think this change of 
plan good for me personally. For if burly M. had 
stayed longer, I do not know how I should have got 
on with my work. He is so great, so gross-geschlagen 
according to K.'s happy expression — that he really takes 
too much room up on the sofa and in one's mind. It 
is simply impossible for me, in his presence, to think 
of any one or anything else but him. During the ten 
days he spent in Stockholm we were constantly together, 
generally tSte-d-tSte^ and spoke of scarcely anything but 
ourselves, and that with a frankness which would have 


amazed you. Still I cannot, in spite of all this, analyse 
my feelings for him. I think I could best give my 
impressions of him in music set to Musset's incom- 
parable words : — 

'II est tr^s joyeux— et pourtant tr^ maussade; 
Detestable voisin— excellent cam^rade ; 
Extr^mement futil — et pourtant tr^s pos^ ; 
Indignement naif— et pourtant tr^s blas^ ; 
Horriblement sincere— et pourtant tr^s rus^.* 

He is into the bargain a real Russian. He has more 
genius and originality in one of his little fingers than 
you could squeeze out of both yours put together, even 
if you put them under a hydraulic press." 

(The rest of the letter only contains the outlines 
of Sonya's plans for the summer's trip, which were 
not realised, so I only quote the most important parts 
of it.) 

" I cannot believe I shall go to Bologna " (to the 
Jubilee, at which she had always intended to be present), 
" partly because such a journey, including dresses and 
everything, would be too expensive, and partly because 
all such celebrations are tedious and not at all to my 
taste. It is also very important that I should be in 
Paris for a short time. I intend to stay there from 
May 15th to June 15th. After that we shall come 
with burly Mr. M. to meet you in Italy, and, as far as I 
can see, shall certainly spend ten months there together. 
That is the chief thing, but where is a matter of detail 
which affects me less. I, for my part, propose the 
Italian lakes or Tyrol. But M. would prefer to make 
us accompany him to the Caucasus, via Constantinople. 


I admit that this is very tempting, especially as he 
assures me that it would not be very expensive. But 
on that point I have my doubts, and I think it would 
be more suitable for us to keep to well-known and 
civilised countries. There is another reason, which, to 
my mind, is in favour of the first plan. I should like, 
during the summer, to write down some of my dreams 
and fancies, and you must also begin to work after 
three months' rest. This is only possible if we settle 
down in some quiet place and lead a regular idyllic life. 
I have never been so tempted to write romance as when 
with burly M. Despite lus vast proportions, which, by 
the bye, are quite in keeping with the character of a 
Russian boyaVy he is still the most perfect hero for a 
novel (a realistic novel, of course) that I have ever met 
with. I believe that he is also a good critic,, jerith a 
spark of the sacred fire." 

Nothing came of our plans for meeting that summer. 
Sonya joined her new Russian friend in London at the 
end of May, and later in the summer she went to the 
Harz mountains, and looked up Weierstrass in order 
to get his advice on the final editing of her work. 
She had sent it in the spring to the Academy in a half- 
finished condition, with a request to be allowed to send 
in a fuller definition of the problem before the awarding 
of the prize. The short letters which I received at 
this time show how feverishly she was at work during 
the whole spring. A note from Stockholm was ad- 
dressed jointly to my brother and myself, as we were 
then together in Italy : — 


" My dear Friends, — I have no time to write 
long letters. I am working as hard as I can, and 
indeed as hard as any one could. I do not yet know 
whether I shall have time to finish my treatise or not. 
I have come to a difficulty which I cannot yet get 

Towards the close of May, while on the way to 
London, she writes the following : — 

" Beloved Anna Charlotte, — Here I am in Ham- 
burg, waiting for the train which is to take me to 
Flushing, and thence I go to London. You can hardly 
imagine what a delight it is to me to be mistress of 
myself and my thoughts once more, and not be obliged 
to concentrate myself forcibly on one subject, as was 
the case during the last few weeks." 

During her visit to the Harz mountains she often 
compldned of the restriction her work exercised on her 
thoughts. There a group of younger mathematicians 
had gathered round the old veteran Weierstrass — 
Mittag Leffler, the Italian Volterra, the German Can- 
tor, Schwartz, Hurvitz, Hettner, and others. Of 
course, among so many representatives of the same 
science, much interesting conversation took place, and 
Sonya grumbled that she was obliged to sit over her 
work instead of enjoying this interchange of thought. 
She was jealous of those who had more time to enjoy 
the inspiring suggestiveness of their honoured teacher's 

Shortly after, she returned to Stockholm, and during 


the autumn months she lived in a perpetual state of 
over-excitement and exertion, which broke down her 
health for a time. 

This year, 1888, was, she had long been forewarned, 
to bring her to the summit of success and happiness. 
It bore within it, also, the germ of all the sorrows and 
misfortunes which were to break upon her with the 
new year. But that Christmas, at the solemn seance 
of the French Academy of Science, she received in 
person the Prix Bordiriy the greatest scientific honour 
which any woman has ever gained ; one of the greatest 
honours, indeed, to which any one can aspire. 

The man in whom she had found such " full satis- 
faction," as she declared, in whom she found all that 
her soul thirsted for, all that her heart desired, was 
present on that occasion. At that supreme moment, 
all she had dreamt of as the highest joy of life became 
' hers. Hers was the highest acknowledgment of her 
genius — hers, the object of her truest devotion. 

But she was the princess into whose cradle the 
fairies had placed every good gift, but always to be 
neutralised by the baneful gift of the single jealous 
fairy. She indeed gained all that she most desired, but 
it came at the wrong moment, and under circumstances 
which embittered it to her. In the midst of her intense 
striving for the prize which her scientific friends knew 
was a matter of honour for her to win, there had come 
into her life this new element ; an element for which 
she had often longed. 

During the last few months before the essay was 
despatched to Paris she had lived in a frightful state 


of excitement, torn by two conflicting claims — she was 
at once a woman and a scientist. Physically she nearly 
killed herself by working exclusively at night ; spiritually 
she was racked by the two great claims now pressing 
upon her : the one requiring her to finish an intel- 
lectual problem, the other demanding her self-surrender 
to the new and powerful passion which possessed her. 
It is a conflict which every one must undergo in some 
degree who gives himself up to creative work. This 
is one of the strongest objections that can be made 
to intellectual talent in woman, because the exercise of 
it prevents that self-surrender in matters of affection, 
which every man demands of his wife. 

For Sonya it was in any case a terrible trial to feel 
that her work stood in the way between her and the 
man to whom she would fain have devoted her every 
thought. She felt dimly, though she never gave it 
expression in words, that his love was chilled by seeing 
her, just when they were most closely drawn together, 
engrossed by a scheme which perhaps seemed to him 
a mere ambitious striving for honour and distinction, 
a mere outcome of vanity. 

Such an honour naturally does not increase a woman's 
value in men's eyes. A singer or an actress, covered 
with laurels, will often make a triumphal entry to a 
man's heart, as Sonya herself remarked. So also may 
a social beauty who wins admiration by her charms. 
But the woman who studies seriously until her eyes are 
red and her brow furrowed, in order to win an academic 
prize — what is there in that to catch a man's fancy? 
Sonya said to herself, with bitterness and irony, that 



she had acted unwarrantably ! She ought, she thought, 
to have sacrificed her ambition and vanity for that which 
was so much more to her than worldly success. But 
still she could not do it. To withdraw at the very 
verge of success would have been to give the world a 
striking proof of woman*s incompetence. The force 
of circumstances and her own nature carried her forward 
to the goal she had set before her. Had she known 
what the delay which had taken place in finishing her 
treatise was to cost her, she would never have wasted 
precious time in writing " A Struggle for Happiness," 
the composing of which made her own struggle for 
happiness so much more difficult than it might other- 
wise have been. 

However, she arrived in Paris, and received the 
prize. She was the heroine of the hour. Speeches 
were made in her honour which she was obliged to 
acknowledge in like manner. She was interviewed and 
received visits all day long, and had scarcely a moment 
to give to the man who had come thither in order to be 
present at her triumph. In this way both the happiness 
of her love and the triumph of her ambition were 
spoiled. Separately they would have given her great 
joy. Her tragic destiny gave her all she desired 
in life, but under such circumstances that, as she 
herself complained, the sweetness was tiuned to 


But perhaps this was also due to the peculiarity of 

her nature, divided always between the world of thought 

and that of feeling ; between her need of yielding 

herself to another, and her need of having herself in 


her own keeping. This eternal dualism enters of 
necessity into the life of every woman of genius, 
as soon as love arrives and makes itself felt as a 

To this were joined the complications engendered by I 
Sonya*s jealous tyrannical temperament. She exacted! 
from her lover such absolute devotion and self-abnega-j 
tion, as must have surpassed thtf powers of all but 
few very exceptional men. On the other hand, she] 
could not decide to cut her life in two at one blow,| 
surrender her work, and become merely a wife. 

On the impossibility of reconciling such different 
claims, their love suffered its final shipwreck. 

About this time Sonya met in Paris a cousin whom 
she had not seen since she was a girl. He was a rich 
proprietor in the interior of Russia, where he led a 
happy life with a beloved wife and large family. In 
his youth he had had certain artistic inclinations which 
he had afterwards abandoned. He and Sonya used 
to discuss ambition. Now he beheld her in her full 
triumph, surrounded and feted as the heroine of the 
day, and that in Paris, where any personal triumph 
becomes more intoxicating than elsewhere. No wonder 
a faint feeling of bitterness came over Sonya's cousin 
when he thought of his own life. She had won all 
of which they had dreamed. But he ! He had sunk 
into a mere insignificant country gentleman, and the 
happy father of a family. 

Sonya looked at his handsome, well-preserved face, 
with its calm and restfiil expression ; she heard him 
speak of his wife and children, and thought that he 


at least had found happiness. He did not wear himself 
out with complicated questions ; he took life simply as 
he found it. 

She wished to found a story on this meeting and this 
motive. She told me so, and I regret deeply that she 
found no time to write it when full of her personal 

The following is a letter of this period addressed to 
my brother : — 

"Dear Gosta, — I have just this minute received 
your kind letter. I am so grateful for your friendship. 
Yes, I believe it is the only good thing life has really 
given me ! How ashamed I am to have done so little 
to prove to you how much I value it. But forgive 
me. I am not at this moment mistress of myself. I 
receive so many letters of congratulation, and, by a 
strange irony of fate, I have never felt so miserable in 
my life. Unhappy as a dog ; no — I hope for the 
dog's sake it is not so unhappy as human beings can 
be. Comme Us homines^ et surtout comme les femmes 
peuveni I'&tre. But perhaps I shall grow more sensible 
by and by. I shall at least try. I will attempt to . 
begin a new work, and interest myself in practical ' 
things. I shall of course be led entirely by your • 
advice, and do whatever you wish. At this moment 
all I can manage to do is to keep my sorrows to myself. 
I take care to make no mistakes in society, nor give 
people any opportunity of talking about me. I have 
been invited out this week to Bertrand's and to Mena- 
brea's ; and afterwards to Count Levenhaupt, to meet 



Prince Eugen, &c. But to-day I feel too low to 
be able to describe all these dinner parties to you. I 
will try to do so another time. 

'* When I return to my rooms I do nothing but walk 
up and down. I have no appetite, neither can I sleep. 
I do not know whether I should care to go away. I 
shall decide that next week. Good-bye for to-day, 
dear Gosta. Keep your friendship for me. I am in 
sore want of it ; that much I may say. Kiss Foufi for 
me, and thanks for all your care of her. 

" Yours most affectionately, 

" SONYA." 

She decided to leave Paris in the spring, and 
wrote to me from there in French : — 

" Let me first congratulate you on the joy which has 
come to you. What a happy * child of the sun ' you 
are to have found so great, so deep a love at your age ! 
That is really a fate worthy of such a lucky soul as you 
are. But it has always been so. You were ""hafpiness^ 
and I am, and most likely shall always be, * struggled 
It is strange, but the longer I live the more I am 
governed by the feeling of fetalism, or rather deter^ 
mintsm. The feeling of free-will, said to be innate in 
man, fails me more and more. I feel so deeply that, 
however much I may struggle, I cannot change my fate 
one iota. I am now almost resigned. I work because 
I feel I am at the worst. I can neither wish nor hope 
for anything. You have no idea how indifferent I am 
to everything. 

" But enough about me ! Let us talk of something 


else. I am glad you like my Polish story.* I need 
not tell you how delighted I should be if you would 
translate it into Swedish. But I should reproach myself 
with taking up your time, which you might employ to 
so much better purpose. I have also written a long 
story about my sister's childhood, her youth, and her 
first steps in a literary career ; and about our connec- 
tion with Dostojevsky. Just now I am busy at * Vae 
Victis,' which, perhaps, you remember. I have also 
another story in hand, *Les Revenants,' which also 
takes up much time. I should much like you to give 
me full powers to dispose of our * child,' * When death 
shall be no more.' It is my favourite of all our children, 
and lately I have often thought of it. I have found an 
admirable frame for it — Pasteur's Institute. I have 
lately got, quite accidentally, to know all about the 
departments of that Institute ; and it seems to me 
peculiarly well suited to a dramatic setting. I have 
for some weeks been turning over in my mind a 
a plan for making our * child ' happy. But it is so 
bold and fantastic that I do not like to carry it out 
without full powers from you." 

In August she wrote again from Sevres, where she 
stayed, during the summer months, with her little 
daughter and some Russian friends : — 

" I have just received a letter from Gosta, telling 
me that I shall perhaps meet you on my return to 
Sweden. I must say I am selfish enough to rejoice 
with all my heart. I am so impatient to know what 

* A memory of her youth, written in French, and translated 
later on in the Nordisk Jidscbrift, 


you are now writing. On my part I have a great deal 
I should like to show you and tell you. Up to now, 
thank God, I have never been at a loss for a subject 
for a novel. And at this moment my head is in a 
ferment with plots. I have finished *The Sisters 
Rajevsky ' ; I have written the preface to * Vse Victis/ 
and I have commenced two stories — ^who knows when 
I shall have time to finish them ! " 



IN the middle of September^ 1889, when Sonya 
returned to Stockholm, we met again after a 
separation of nearly two years. I found her very 
much changed. Her brilliant wit and badinage had 
disappeared. The furrow on her brow had deepened ; 
her expression was gloomy and abstracted. Even 
her eyes had lost the marvellous lustre which was 
their chief charm. They were now dull and some- 
times squinted slightly. 

Sonya succeeded in hiding from her less intimate 
friends her real feelings, and, to them, appeared much 
the same as before. She even said that, when she had 
felt more depressed than usual in society, people would 
remark of her that Madame Kovalevsky had been 
really quite brilliant. But to us, who knew her well, 
the change was only too apparent. She had lost all 
wish for society, not only as regards strangers, but even 
for that of her friends. She could not remain idle for 
a moment, and only found peace in hard work. She 
recommenced her lectures from a sense of dutv, but 

had no longer any real interest in them. 




It was in literary composition that she now sought 
an outlet for the increasing restlessness which consumed 
her. This was partly because such work had points 
of contact with her own inner life ; and partly because 
she had not yet recovered from the overstrain she had 
undergone, which prevented her from resuming her 
scientific studies. She now began again to revise her 
"Va^ Victis," and write the preface. The book had 
been translated from the Russian MS., and published 
in the literary calendar "Nornan" for that year. 
In it there is a short passage depicting the struggle 
of nature, the awakening from the long winter sleep 
in spring. But it is not, as usual in 3uch compositions, 
written in praise of Spring. On the contrary, it is the 
calm restfiil Winter which is here idealised. Spring is 
depicted as a brutal, sensual being, which awakens 
great hopes only to disappoint them. 

Sonya intended this novel to be part of her own 
inner history. Few women have become more cele- 
brated, or been so surrounded by outer success. Yet, 
in this novel, she depicts the story of defeat, because 
she fdt herself defeated, in spite of her triumphs, in 
her struggle for happiness; and her sympathies were 
rather for those who succumb than for those who 

This deep feeling for suffering was very character- 
istic of her. It was not the ordinary " charity " of 
the Christian. It was that she made the sufferings of 
others her own ; not with the superiority which strives 
to console, but with the sympathy that is the outcome 
of despair ; despair at the cruelty of life. Sonya 



always said that what she most loved in the Greek 
religion, in which she had been educated, and for which 
she never quite lost her veneration, was its sympathy 
for suffering, which is much more emphasised in this 
than in any other religious community. In literature 
she was always most touched by this note in any writer, 
and it is in Russian literature that the feeling has found 
its most beautiful expression. 

Sonya now began to put the finishing touches to the 
books which contained the memories of her child- 
hood, and which Froken Hedberg translated from the 

In the evenings, in our own family circle, these 
books were read aloud chapter after chapter as soon 
as they were translated. In spite of the melancholy 
mood which had overcome both Sonya and myself, that 
autumn was still full of interest in consequence of her 
great eagerness for work ; an eagerness felt by both, 
though we were no longer in collaboration. 

During October and November I wrote five new 
tales, which, together with Sonya's, were read aloud 
in the family circle. We were very happy in each 
other's work. We went together to the publishers, 
and our books — Sonya's " Sisters Rajevsky," and my 
" From Life ; No. III.," appeared simultaneously. It 
was a faint reflection of our work together in earlier 

Sonya had intended to publish her memoirs in a 
definite autobiographical form, and it was in that style 
that she wrote them in Russian. But as soon as we 
had read the first chapter, we dissuaded her from the 


attempt. We considered that, in a small community 
such as ours, it would shock people if a still unknown 
writer sat down and wrote, without disguise, all the 
most intimate details of her family life for the benefit 
of the public. 

The whole was written in Russian, and several 
chapters were already translated, when she turned the 
autobiography into a novel called "Tanja." From 
that moment we had little or nothing to object to, and 
could only express our astonishment on finding that, 
at one stroke, our friend had become a finished artist. 

While our books were going through the press, we 
once more attempted a work in collaboration. 

Sonya, during her last visit to Russia, had found, in 
her sister's desk, the MS. of a drama, which Anyuta 
had written many years previously. It had met with 
warm approval from some of the best literary critics 
in Russia, but it was not ready for the stage. It 
contained scenes full of inspiration. The delineation 
of character was admirable, and throughout there lay 
in it a wonderfully deep, melancholy spirit. It had, 
besides, a very strong Russian local-colouring. 

When Sonya read it to me in full translation, I at 
once felt that it was worth revising in order to bring it 
out on the Swedish stage. Sonya, moreover, ever since 
her sister's death, had felt a keen desire to make some 
of her works known. It pained her to remember how 
Anyuta's rich gifts had been repressed in their develop- 
ment, and she found a kind of consolation in the thought 
of obtaining for her sister at least a posthumous feme. 
We set to work. We discussed scene after scene, act 


after act, and agreed what alterations were necessary. 
Sonya sketched the drama in Russian, and added nearly 
a whole act, thus making her first attempt in dramatic 
dialogue. She then dictated it to me in her broken 
Swedish, and I put it into shape as I wrote it down. 

But it seemed as though no form of collaboration 
could succeed. We read the new drama to a select 
circle of literary and artistic friends in Sonya's red 
drawing-room. It had, after much deliberation, re- 
ceived the somewhat clumsy title of " Till and After 
Death." The opinion of our friends was not very 
encouraging. They found the drama too monoto- 
nously gloomy. They did not think it would be 
successful on the stage. 

Meanwhile Sonya and I had each many personal 
cares, and now that Christmas was approaching we 
had to consider where we should spend that holiday. 
Neither of us had the heart to spend it at home. 
Stockholm was hateful to us both, but for different 
reasons. So we finally decided to try and realise our 
old plan of travelling together as we had never yet 
managed to do. After many suggestions of places, we 
decided on going to Paris. There, we thought, we 
could, more easily than anywhere, come into contact 
with literary and theatrical people. And we hoped to 
divert our thoughts from our own personal worries. 
We left Stockholm in the beginning of December. 

But how different was this journey from what we 
had been used to plan ! We neither of us expected to 
enjoy this journey. It was only intended as morphia 
— to deaden our thoughts. We sat silent and sad, 


staring at each other, and feeling that our indi- 
vidual melancholy was increased by that which each 
saw in the face of the other. We spent a couple of 
days at Copenhagen, and called on some friends and 
acqudntances. They were all astonished at the change 
in Sonya. She had grown much thinner. Her face 
was much wrinkled, her cheeks hollow, and she had, 
besides, a bad cough, caught during the influenza 
epidemic which had raged in Stockholm. She took no 
care of herself, and it was a wonder that she recovered 
at all. One day, when she had received a letter which 
excited her, she got out of bed, where she lay in a high 
fever, and, half-dressed and in thin shoes, went out into 
the cold wet snow. She came back drenched to the 
skin, and sat without changing her clothes till nightfall. 
" You see," she said to me when I entreated her to take 
more care, *' I am not even happy enough to take a 
serious illness. Do not be frightened. Life will spare 
me. I should only be too happy to have done with it, 
but such happiness will not fall to my lot." 

While, as we travelled through from Copenhagen to 
Paris, vid Gedser, Warnemunde, Hamburg, we sat 
together motionless in the railway carriage, Sonya said 
over and over again : 

" Just think if the train which is passing should run 
off the line and crush us ! Railway accidents happen 
so often. Why cannot one happen now? Why 
cannot fate take pity on me.'*" 

During the long days and nights she spoke un- 
ceasingly of her own life, her own fate. She talked 
more to herself than to me. She went through a kind 


of self-examination, as though seeking the reason why 
she must be always suffering and unhappy ; why could 
she never get what she wanted — illimitable love — 
"Why, why can no one love me?" she cried, again 
and again. "I could be more to a man than most 
women — and why are the most insignificant women 
loved while I remain unloved?" 

I tried to explain. She asked too much. She was 
not one to be content with the kind of love that may 
fall to any woman's lot. She was too introspective. 
She brooded too much about herself, and had not the 
kind of devotion which forgets itself. Her devotion 
demanded as much as it gave, and unceasingly worried 
itself and its object by considering and weighing all that 
it received. 

How melancholy was our arrival at Paris ! We had 
often pictured it as so bright ! We drove straight from 
the station to Nilsson's Library, in order to ask for 
letters which we were expecting with impatience. They 
had arrived, and gave us sufficient food for thought. 
I had only been once before in Paris, and then only for 
a short time on my return from London in 1884. I 
asked Sonya about the palaces and squares which we 
drove past on our way to the hotel near the Place de 
VEtoile^ but she answered impatiently, " I do not know. 
I know nothing about these places. I cannot tell which 
is which." 

The Tuileries, the Place de la Concorde, the Palais 
d'Industrie, awakened no recollections in her, nor made 
any impression. Paris, great and gay, which had always 
been her favourite city, the place she would have chosen 


to live in had she had the choice^ was to her at this 
moment a dead mass of dull buildings. She had not 
received a letter from bim, and only one from a friend 
of his whose news was anything but satisfactory — that 
was why Paris was dull. 

We spent some feverish, strangely restless weeks in 
the place where, the year before, Sonya had received so 
much adulation and honourable distinction. But now 
Paris seemed to have forgotten her. She had had her 
" quart d'heure.** 

We looked up our friends, made new acquaintances, 
and ran about from morning to night, but not as 
tourists. Of the city and its sights I saw nothing ; not 
even the Eifel Tower. We were only interested in 
studying people and theatres, trying to get into the 
whirlpool, and to find the necessary stimulus for our 
flagging literary interest. 

The circle of our acquaintance was varied, and on 
some days curiously mixed. All nations and all types 
were represented in our rooms. A Russo-Jewish family, 
and a French banker's family, lived in the palace of a 
former aristocrat. The footmen wore knee-breeches 
and silk stockings, and everything was in keeping with 
the traditions of aristocratic pomp. Among our friends, 
besides, were Swedish and Russian scientists, some of the 
latter being ladies ; Polish emigrants and conspirators ; 
French literary men and women ; and several Scandina- 
vians : Jonas Lie, Walter Runneberg, Knut Wichsell, 
Ida Erikson, and other scientists, artists, and authors. 

Sonya, of course, called on some of the leading 
mathematicians in Paris, and received invitations from 



them. But at the moment her head was full of any- 
thing but science, and consequently she was less 
interested than usual in such society. Among the 
interesting figures in our circle I must specially mention 
the afterwards famous Padlevsky. He was a sickly 
young man, about whom still lingered the air of a 
prison. He spoke French badly. He at once 
interested us by the vehemence and enthusiasm with 
which he embraced revolutionary principles. He 
seemed to us to be boiling with impatience to be 
once more in danger. He evidently loved martyr- 
dom ; and imprisonment, in which state he had passed 
so much of his youth, had no horrors for him. His 
father had been executed during the Polish revolution ; 
his brother had died a horrible death in the Peter-Paul 
Fortress of terrible feme. In order to save her youngest 
from a like fate, and get him away from the influence 
which had seduced his father and brother, his poor 
mother took him to Germany. But all in vain. 
Revolution was in his blood, and before he was twenty 
he was a political prisoner. He escaped, and passed 
through countless adventures. Just now it seemed that 
he had nothing in prospect. But he did not conceal his 
readiness to fling himself again into the furnace of revolt 
at the very first opportunity. These facts of his life I 
relate as told to me by Sonya. As a private individual, 
Padlevsky was most sweet and winning, gentle and 
charming in his ways. He was absolutely without 
means of livelihood. Conspiracy was, I believe, his 
only profession. But he was constantly the guest of 
the richer members of his party. 


It was of deep interest to me to make acquaintance 
with the strange group of enthusiastic patriots who lost 
themselves so entirely in the love of their country ; who 
sorrowed so deeply over its misfortunes; and who so' 
longed to save it, that what a law-abiding community 
called crime was to them a sacred duty. 

Just at this time a great English newspaper published 
a horrible account of the cruelties which Siberian 
prisoners, and among them some highly educated 
ladies, had had to undergo. 

There was something deeply touching in the sorrow 
which the intelligence aroused in the Russo-Polish 
clique in Paris. It seemed as though its members had 
suffered personally. The bond which unites all the 
martyrs of the Czar is so strong that to all intents and 
purposes they are but one family. 

The centre of that clique was one of Sonya's most 
intimate friends ; a woman whom she admired more 
than any other, and who impressed her so greatly that 
she lost all her critical judgment in regarding her. 
Sonya admired this woman with the jealous adoration 
so characteristic of her. This friend possessed several 
of the qualities which Sonya herself desired and envied : 
beauty ; a rare power of fascination ; and an equally rare 
talent for dressing in perfect taste. While in Paris, 
Sonya used to get this friend to choose her dresses for 
her, but they never looked so well on her as on the 
charming Pole. 

The latter had a gift for attracting a small court of 
admirers, who vied with each other in winning a smile 
from her. But Sonya admired in this friend least what 



the others admired most : her genius, intelligence, and 
courage. A genius not creative in its nature had no 
attractions for Sonya. 

As to courage, that is, moral courage, Sonya con- 
sidered that, if tried as her friend had been, she would 
prove equally courageous. 

The life which Mdme J lived now that all the 

storms of her life were over — for she, too, had passed a 
year as a political prisoner — seemed to Sonya the ideal 
of happiness. Recently married to a man who adored 
her ; surrounded by a sympathising and admiring circle 
of friends in whose sight she was a queen ; the mistress 
of a hospitable mansion open to all friends ; living in 
Paris in the very midst of the intellectual movement of 
the time, and inspired by a mission in which she in- 
tensely believed, Mdme. J was, in Sonya's opinion, 

in a position of supreme and ideal happiness. 

In this circle, so sympathetic to her feelings, Sonya 
became open-hearted. I had never seen her so com- 
municative except when tite-d-tite. She spoke openly 
of her dissatisfaction with life ; of her sterile triumphs 
in science. She said she would willingly exchange all 
the celebrity she had won, all the triumphs of her 
intellect, for the lot of the most insignificant woman 
who lived in her proper circle — a circle of which she 
was the centre, and in which she was beloved. 

But Sonya noticed with some bitterness that no one 
believed her statement. All her friends thought her 
more ambitious than affectionate or sensitive, and they 
laughed at her words as though she were but indulging 
in one of her paradoxes. 


The Norwegian author, Jonas Lie, was the only 
person who understood Sonya fully. Once, in a little 
speech he made, he showed his comprehension of her so 
plainly that she was moved to tears. It was on one of 
the pleasantest of our Paris days. We were dining 
with Jonas Lie ; and Grieg and his wife, who were just 
then enjoying his triumph at Paris, were present. 
There was about this little dinner the indescribable 
festive feeling which sometimes springs up in a small 
circle when each person present is pleased to see the 
other, and all feel themselves to be fully understood 
and appreciated. Jonas Lie was in high spirits. He 
made one speech after the other, bright and sparkling, 
and full of imagination, and yet withal — as was his 
wont — somewhat involved and obscure. The spon- 
taneity and poetic fervour inherent in all his utterances, 
gave to his cordiality a special charm. He spoke of 
Sonya, not as the great mathematician, nor even as the 
successful author, but as the little " Tanja Rajevsky," 
whom he said he had learned to love so truly, and for 
whom he felt so great a sympathy. He said he was 
so sorry for the poor little misunderstood child who so 
longed for tenderness. He doubted, he said, whether 
she had ever been understood. Life, he had heard, had 
lavished upon her every gift upon which she set no 
value ; had given her honours, distinction, and success. 
Yet she still stood there with great wide-open eyes. 
There she stands, with her empty outstretched hands. 
What does she want ? She only wants a friendly 
hand to give her an orange. " Thank you, Hen- 
Lie,'* Sonya murmured, in accents deeply moved and 


choked with tears. " I have had many speeches made 
about me in my life, but never one so beautiful." She 
could say no more. She sat down, for she had risen in 
the impulse of the moment, and tried to conquer her 
emotion by drinking a glass of water. 

When we left Lie*s house, Sonya was in a brighter 
mood than she had been for many a day. She felt 
that there existed at least one person who understood 
her, though he had seen her but a few times, and knew 
nothing of her private circumstances. He had pene- 
trated further into her inmost soul by merely reading 
her book than her most intimate friends had done, 
though they had known her for years. Now, after all, 
she felt that there was some pleasure in writing, and, 
after all, life was worth living. 

We had intended to go straight from Lie's house 
to another friend, and not to run home between whiles. 
But Sonya was always expecting letters, and was never 
happy if away from the hotel for many hours at a time. 
So we returned home, making a detour to the hotel in 
order to ask the eternal question. Are there any letters ? 
The next moment Sonya had clutched the letter which 
lay close to the key of our rooms, and rushed up the 
flight of stairs. 

I followed her slowly, and went straight to my own 
room, for I did not want to disturb her. Almost 
immediately she came to me, threw her arms around 
my neck, laughed, danced round me, and then flung 
herself down on the sofa, almost shouting with delight. 

" Oh, what happiness ! " she exclaimed. " I cannot 
bear it! I shall die of joy ! " 


The letter expldned away an unfortunate misunder- 
standing—one which had worried her for months and 
had worn her to a shadow. The very next evening 
she left Paris in order to meet the man on whom her 
whole ejdstence depended. 



A COUPLE of days after Sonya's departure I 
received a few lines from her. Already the spark 
of happiness which had flamed up so brightly and 
inspired most extravagant hopes, had died out. I have 
not kept her letter, but I remember the main contents. 
" I see," she wrote, " that he and I will never under- 
stand each other. I shall return to my work at Stock- 
holm. In future my only consolation will be work." 

That was all. During the remainder of that winter 
and all next spring I had not a line from her except a 
few heartfelt words of congratulation on my marriage 
in May. 

She suffered ; and avoided showing me her sorrows, 
not wishing to disturb my happiness. She could never 
make up her mind to write on indiflferent matters. 
Therefore she kept silence. But this reticence, after 
our recent intimacy, wounded me deeply. Afterwards 
I well understood that she could not have acted other- 

In the April of that year, 1890, Sonya went to 




Russia. She had rather expected to be elected a member 
of the Academy of Science at St. Petersburg, the most 
advantageous position which she could have acquired. 
It would have yielded her a large salary, and no duties 
beyond a few months' yearly residence in St. Petersburg. 
To be a member of the Academy is the greatest honour 
to which any Russian scientist can attain. Sonya had 
built her hopes on obtaining it. She would have then 
been delivered from the insufferable yoke of Stockholm 
life, and her wish to settle in Paris could have been 

During our stay in that city she had often said to 
me, " If you cannot have the best in life, namely, true 
heart-happiness, life may be bearable if you get the next 
best thing — an intellectual atmosphere in which you can 
breathe and flourish. But to have neither is insuffer- 
able." She still fancied that if she could gain this, 
she might be reconciled to life. I could not guess 
whether her plans would prosper, nor did I ever know 
where she was going after leaving St. Petersburg. 
She was very mysterious about her plans all that 
spring, mentioning them to no one. I met her by 
chance, however, in Berlin in the middle of June. I 
was then en route for Sweden, whither I was returning 
with my husband shortly after our marriage. Sonya 
had arrived the same day from St. Petersburg. 

I found her in an unnaturally excitable state of mind 
— a mood which a stranger might easily have mistaken 
for light-heartedness. I knew her too well not to 
realise that something crouched behind it. She had been 
feted at Helsingfors and St. Petersburg ; she had been 


hurried from place to place ; had met the most interest- 
ing people, and had made a speech before a thousand 
listeners. She assured me that she had enjoyed herself 
immensely, and had good expectations ; but she con- 
tinued to be mysterious and to shun all intimacy, 
carefully avoiding remaining alone with me, for fear 
of being searchingly questioned. 

We spent, however, some cheerful days together, 
filled with jesting and small-talk. Still she impressed 
me painfully, for I saw how nervous and over-excited 
she really was, and how utterly out of tune. The only 
thing she said to me about her personal concerns was 
that she never intended to marry again ; that she would 
not be so banal ; she would not do as other women did, 
forsake her work and mission in order to marry as soon 
as she had a chance. She did not want to leave her 
post at Stockholm until she had won such a sure 
position as an author that she could support herself by 
her writings. She did not deny that she wished to 

meet and travel with M , who was to her the best 

of friends and comrades. 

A few months later we again met at Stockholm, 
where she had resumed her lectures in September. 
Once more her forced gaiety had vanished. She was 
still more out of sorts, and troubled with an increasing 
restlessness. I had no opportunity of seeing deeper 
into her heart. She hid her feelings from me. She 
continued to shun a tite-a-tite^ and, on the whole, 
showed herself more or less indifferent to all who 
formerly had been her most intimate friends. It was 
evident that her heart was elsewhere, and that she felt 


these months at Stockholm as a kind of banishment. 
She counted the days that must pass before the Christ- 
mas holidays, when she meant to travel. She was in a 
desperate condition. She could neither manage to live 

with or without M -. Thus her life had lost its 

balance. She was like an uprooted plant : could not 
strike root again, and seemed to wither away. 

When my brother removed to Djursholm, in the 
villa quarter of Stockholm, he tried to persuade Sonya 
to come to the same neighbourhood. She had always 
liked to live near him, so that they might meet as often 
as possible. But though my brother's removal to new 
quarters was a great trial to her, and she felt more 
lonely than ever, she could not make up her mind to 

" Who knows how long I shall stay in Stockholm ? 
This cannot last for ever!" she often exclaimed. **And 
if I am in Stockholm next winter I shall be in such bad 
spirits that you will not care to see much of me." 

She could not be induced to go and see Mittag 
Leffler's new villa, which was being built. She took 
no interest in it, and did not wish to enter the new 
home of one of her most intimate friends in such a 
spirit of indifference. And when those who were 
with her went to see the rooms, she insisted on waiting 
outside the door. 

A feeling of the fleeting, evanescent nature of her 
sojourn in Stockholm was growing upon her. She 
began to let drop all the ties that bound her to the 
place. She neglected her friends, withdrew from 
society, and was more than ever indifferent to her 


house and dress. ^ All the inspiration and soul had 
even died out of her conversation. The heartfelt 
interest she had formerly taken in all spheres of human 
life and human thought had faded. She was entirely 
engrossed by the tragedy of her life. 




THE last time I saw Sonya alive was in the same 
year, 1890. She had come to say good-bye to 
us at Djursholm before she went to Nice. No fore- 
bodings told us that this was to be the last farewell. 

My husband, Sonya, and I, had agreed to meet at 
Genoa directly after Christmas, so we said but short 
farewells. But the plan was not carried out, in conse- 
quence of a misdirected telegram which was intended 
to meet us on our return to Italy. Whilst Sonya and 
her companion were waiting for us, we passed through 
the town in which they were staying without knowing 
they were there. 

New Year's Day — which we had hoped to spend 
together — was passed by Sonya and her friend in going 
to the lovely marble dwelling of the dead at Genoa. 
While there, a sudden shadow flitted across Sonya's 
fece, and she said with prophetic emphasis : " One of 
us will not survive this year, for we have spent its first 
day in a burial-ground ! " 

A few weeks later Sonya was on her way back to 
Stockholm. The voyage she so hated was this time 



not only to be a trying, but also a fatal one. With a 
heart wounded once more by the pain of separation, 
feeling that the torture was almost killing her, Sonya 
sat in the railway carriage lost in despair. These 
bitter cold winter days differed so cruelly from the 
mild and fragrant air she had left behind in Italy. 
The contrast between the Mediterranean and the 
northern cold had now become symbolic to her. She 

C began to hate the cold and darkness as intensely as 
she loved sunshine and flowers. 

Her journey was also physically more than usually 
disagreeable to her. A strange contrariety of fate made 
her fail to take the shortest and most convenient route 
from Berlin, where she had spent a few days. An 
epidemic of smallpox had broken out at Copenhagen, 
and as she was mortally afraid of this disease, she would 
not risk a single night in that town. 

She therefore took the long and troublesome route 
across the Danish islands. The never-ending change 
of trains in bad weather was very likely one of the 
causes of the severe chill which she caught. 

At Fredericia, where she arrived late at night in 
pelting rain and storm, she had no Danish coin by 
her, and therefore could not hire a porter; so she 
carried her luggage herself, dead tired and frozen as 
she was, and so dispirited that she was ready to faint. 
When she arrived at Stockholm on the morning of 
February nth, she felt very ill. Nevertheless she 
worked the whole of the next day, Thursday, and gave 
her lecture on Friday, February 6th. She was always 
very plucky, and never missed a lecture if it were 

THE END. 157 

possible for her to stand. That evening she went to 
a party at the Observatory. There she began to feel 
feverish, and went away alone, but could not get a cab. 
Unpractical as she always was in such matters, and 
never knowing her way about Stockholm, she got into 
the wrong omnibus, and in consequence had to make 
a long detour on that cold raw evening. When she 
preached home — ^alone, helpless, trembling with fever, 
with mortal sorrow in her heart, she sat down in the 
cold night, feeling the violence of the illness which had 
attacked her. That very morning she had told my 
brother, who was Rector of the University, that she 
must have leave of absence during next April on what- 
ever terms she could obtain it. 

Each time she had returned to Stockholm her only 
consolation in the midst of her despair had been to 
make plans for the future. Between times she tried 
to numb her sorrow and restlessness by working hard. 
She had thought of several new plans, both as concerned 
mathematics and literature, and spoke of them with 
much interest. To my brother she divulged an idea 
of a mathematical work, which he thought would be 
the greatest she had yet written. To her friend Ellen 
Key, with whom she spent most of these last days, she 
spoke of several new novels which she had worked out 
in her head. One she had alreadv commenced, and in 
it she meant to give a character-sketch of her father. 
She had also written two-thirds of another, which was 
to be a pendant to '' Vera VerontzofF.*' She meant to 
call it " A Nihilist," and it was to describe an episode 
in Tschernyschevsky's life. The last chapter, which 


she had not yet written, she described to Ellen Key, 
who noted it down in the following words : — 

" T., from obscurity, has suddenly risen to celebrity 
among the young generation by his social revolutionary 
novel, entitled, * What are We to Do ? ' At a fete he 
has been hailed as the hope and leader of the rising 
generation. He has returned to his garret, where he 
lives with his beautiful young wife. She is asleep when 
he arrives. He goes to the window and looks down 
on sleeping St. Petersburg, where lights still glimmer. 
He talks, in imagination, to the terrible mighty city. 
There it lies — still the home of violence, poverty, 
injustice, and oppression. But he will conquer ; he 
will breathe his spirit into it. What he thinks, they 
all shall gradually come to think ; even as the rising 
generation does now. He remembers especially a 
deep-souled girl whose sympathy has gone out to 
him. He begins to dream, but rouses himself to go 
and kiss his wife and tell her of his triumphs, when, 
at that moment, he hears a sharp knock at the door. 
He opens it, and there stand the gendarmes who have 
come to arrest him." 

Eagerly as Sonya had often invoked death, she had 
at this moment no wish to die. But those friends who 
were near her at the last thought her more resigned 
than she had been formerly. She no longer yearned 
for that complete happiness, the ideal of which had 
ever consumed her soul with its burning flame. But 
she now longed, with ardent clinging love, for the 
broken gleams of the happiness which had of late cast 
a light upon her path. 

THE END. 159 

In her innermost heart she was afraid of the great 
unknown. She often said that it was the possibility 
of punishment in the other world which alone kept 
her back from leaving this one. She had no definite 
religious belief, but she believed in the eternal life of 
each individual soul. She believed, and she trembled. 

She was especially afraid of the awful moment at 
which earthly life ends. She often quoted Hamlet's 
words : — 

" For in that sleep of death what dreams may come. 
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, 
Must give us pause." 

With her vivid imagination she pictured those awful 
moments which perhaps may occur, when the body, 
physically speaking, is dead, but the nervous system 
still lives and suffers — suffers a nameless martyrdom — 
known by none but they who have taken the dread 
leap into the great darkness. 

Sonya was anxious to be cremated, because she had 
also a fear of being buried alive. She pictured to her- 
self how it would be to awaken in her coffin. She 
described it in such words as to make all who heard her 

Her illness was so short and violent that probably she 
had no time or power to recall at the last moment all 
these sad forebodings. The only thing she said which 
suggested that she had any idea of her approaching end, 
she uttered on Monday morning, the 9th of February, 
barely twenty hours before she died. " I shall never get 
over this illness," she said. 


And on the evening of the same day she remarked : 
" I feel as if a great change had come over me." 

But as to the rest, her fear was chiefly that her illness 
might be a long one. She had not strength to speak 
much, for she had severe pleurisy, high fever, and 
breathlessness. She suffered cruel pain, and could not 
bear to be alone for a moment. 

The last night but one she said to Ellen Key, who 
scarcely ever left her : "If you hear me moan in my 
sleep, wake me, and help me to change my position, 
otherwse I fear it may go ill with me. My mother 
died in just such an access of pain." 

She had hereditary disease of the heart, and had in 
consequence often expressed a hope that she might die 
young. This disease, however, was found at the post 
mortem to have been of no importance, though it may 
have increased the breathlessness caused by the pleurisy. 

The friends who were near her during her short 
illness cannot say enough about her goodness, gentleness 
and patience ; or how unselfish she was, fearing to give 
trouble ; and how touching was her gratitude for every 
little service rendered. 

On Tuesday her little girl was to go to a children's 
party, and Soiiya interested herself in it to the last, 
wishing that her child should not miss this pleasure. 
She begged her friends to help her to get what was 
required, and when, on Monday evening, the child came 
to her mother dressed in a gipsy costume, Sonya smiled 
kindly on her little daughter, and hoped she would 
enjoy herself. Only a few hours later the child was 
roused from her sleep to receive her mother's dying 
look which was full of tenderness. 

THE END. i6i 

On the Monday evening both the friends who had 
nursed her during the last few days had left her, and a 
St. Elizabeth's sister took their place. The doctors did 
not apprehend any immediate danger. They seemed 
rather to believe the illness would last some time. The 
friends, therefore, considered it wiser to forego the 
night-nursing, and spare their strength. 

At Sonya's own desire they were to rest that night, 
as there seemed no special need for their presence. Just 
that night the great crisis came, 

Sonya lay in deep sleep when her friends left her. But 
at two o'clock she awoke. The terrible death-agony 
had begun. She showed no sign of consciousness. She 
could neither speak nor move, nor even swallow. This 
lasted for two hours. Only at the last moment did one 
of her friends, summoned tardily by the nurse, arrive. 

Alone, alone with a hired stranger, a nurse who did 
not even speak her language, she had to struggle 
through the last and bitter battle. Who knows what 
consolation a beloved voice, the touch of a loving hand, 
might have been to Sonya during those two terrible hours? 

I wish even that a Russian priest could have read a 
mass to her during that time. With the veneration in 
which she still held the Greek religion, and indeed all 
memories of her childhood, the familiar words would 
have been sweet and calming in her ears if she had been 
able to catch them. Could her hands, in their wandering, 
have clutched the cross, it might have consoled her ; as 
it has so often consoled other dying mortals. To her, 
it was ever a much-loved symbol — the symbol of the 
sufferings of mankind. 



But there was nothing — not a word of consolation ; 
no help, not even a loving hand to place its cool pres- 
sure on her burning brow. Alone in a stranger-country, 
wth a broken heart and shattered hopes ; trembling, 
perhaps, at what she was about to meet ! Thus she 
closed her earthly life, " this soul of fire, this soul of 

Out of the hopeless darkness which seemed to enshroud 
this death-bed, little by little some gleams of hope have 
come to me. It matters not whether life be long 
or short ; all depends on what it has contained for 
oneself and for others ; and, from this point of view, 
Sonya's life had been longer than most. She had lived 
intensely ; she had drained the cup both of sorrow and 
of joy. She had quenched the thirst of her spirit at the 
wells of wisdom. She had risen to the heights to which 
genius and imagination alone can carry the soul. To 
others she had given unstintingly of her knowledge, ex- 
perience, imagination and feeling. She had spoken with 
the inspiring voice which genius alone possesses when 
it does not isolate itself in selfish retirement. No one 
who knew her could remain unmoved by the influence 
ever exercised by the keen intellect and glowing feeling 
which spread sunshine and growth around. Her mind 
was fertile because her intellect was unselfish. Her 
highest aspiration was to live in mental union with 

• If there was much that was fantastic and superstitious 
in her forebodings and dreams, it is nevertheless true 
that there was much in her of the " seer." When her 
shortsighted eyes, luminous with genius, were fastened on 

THE END. 163 

the person to whom she spoke, one felt that they pene- 
trated the very soul. How often did she, with a look, 
pierce through the mask beneath which less sagacious 
glances had failed to discover the real countenance. 
How often would she divine the secret motives that 
were hidden from others, and even unrevealed to their 
very owner. It was her poet-soul which thus became 
in her the seer. A chance word, a single insignificant 
episode, which she came across, could reveal to her the 
whole connection between cause and eflect ; and enable 
her to develop them into the story of a whole life. 
It was this connection for which her soul was always 
searclung ; connectedness in the world of thought and 
between the varied phenomena of life. She even sought 
for the unknown connection between these phenomena 
and the laws of thought. 

It was a never-ending source of grief to her that in 
this world " we can only see in part, and only know in 
[part." Thus it was that she loved to dream about 
ariother and a higher life, of which the apostle so 
beautifully says, ** Now we see through a glass darkly, 
but then face to face," To perceive oneness in the 
manifold, was the aim of her scientific and poetic mind. 
But ah ! has she attained this now } The possibility, 
dim and uncertain as it is, makes the brain reel; 
but it makes one breathe more freely, and makes the 
heart beat wth a fluttering hope that takes away the 
sting of death. 

Sonya had always wished to die young. In spite of 
the inexhaustible freshness of mind which made her 
ever ready to receive new impressions, to drink from 


r fresh sources of pleasure and find enjoyment in trifles, 

J there was still in her mind and soul a longing which 

1 life could never satisfy. She sought for unity in the 

world of thought, and longed for it also in the world of 


Just as her intellect craved absolute clearness of 
thought and absolute truth, so her heart craved that 
perfect love and union which the limitations of life, and 
more especially the limitations of her own nature, 
rendered impossible. 

It was the impossibility of harmonising and fulfilling 
all the desires of such a nature as hers that wrecked her 
life. And in this light we can look upon her death 
with less sadness. 

Starting from her own belief in a deep relationship 
between the diflFerent phenomena of life, one cannot fail 
to understand that death was, as it were, the natural 
outcome of it all. It was not merely that destructive 
and fatal microbes had settled on her lungs ; and not 
even because life could never give her the joys for which 
she craved. But, also, the necessary organic relation- 
ship between her inner and outer being was wanting ; 
the link between the worlds of thought and feeling, 
between her temperament and disposition, was lacking. 
She saWy as it were, " as when that which is perfect is 
come," but she acted only " in part.'lZ 

If there be a world in which these contrasts are 
harmonised, truly she must be happy now. If not — 
then she has gained the desired harmony in another 
way, because in complete rest there is also harmony. 

A death has seldom awakened so great and so general 

THE END. 165 

a regret as did that of Sonya. From nearly all quarters 
of the civilised world telegrams of condolence reached 
the Stockholm University. From the highly conserva- 
tive University of St. Petersburg, of which she had been 
made a corresponding member during the last year of 
her life, down to the Sunday school in Tiflis and the 
Kindergarten in Charkow, all joined in showing honour 
to her memory. 

The women of Russia decided to raise a monument 
over her grave in Stockholm. At her burial, carriage- 
loads of flowers covered the dark newly-turned earth 
among the snow-drifts in the Stockholm cemetery. 
All the papers and reviews contained honourable men- 
tion of the unique woman who beyond all others had 
brought honour on her sex. 

But, out from all these signs of homage, these 
tributes of esteem, one picture stands by itself. Sonya 
will be for posterity what she least wished to be — a 
marvel of mental development and brain power ; 
or, if you will, a kind of giantess of such extra- 
ordinary proportions that you regard her with wonder 
and admiration. 

I have, perhaps, in describing her life, in unveiling its 
mistakes and weaknesses, its sorrows and humiliations, 
as well as its greatness and its triumph, reduced too 
much its true dimensions. What I had in mind was to 
depict Sonya as I knew her, and as she wished to be 
known and understood. I have, above all, sought to 
emphasise the human traits in the picture, and in this 
way place its subject nearer to the level of other women ; 
to make her one of them ; not an exception to, but a 


proof of, the rule that the life of the heart is the most 
important, not only for women, but for the whole of 
the human race. At this central focus of all humanity, 
the most and the least gifted may ever meet. 



A YEAR before the date of the Introduction to this 
biography, the Duchess of Cajanello published in the 
^^ Annali di Matematica pura ed applicata " a notice on Sonya 
Kovalevsky, from which we quote some interesting hcts not 
detailed in the memoir now given to our English readers. 

Sonya Vassilievna Corvin Krukovsky was born at Moscow 
on the 15th of January, 1850. Her &ther was a general of 
artillery, marshal of the nobility of the Government of Viteb, 
and belonged to the ancient aristocracy of the country. Her 
mother was niece of the celebrated astronomer Schubert. 
The family of Corvin was directly descended from King 
Matthias Corvin, the hero of Hungary. 

The ancient feudal castle in the Government of Viteb, 
where Sonya grew up, was far distant from any city, and 
had no communication with the outer world except by means 
of wretched country roads, which traversed enormous steppes, 
and, at certain seasons of the year, were absolutely im- 
practicable. About Sonya's paternal abode. Castle PaJibino, 
the wolves howled on winter nights, and bears wandered 
in the dense forests that formed a natural park around it. 
Here the imaginative girl dreamed not only of the big 
unknown world without its boundaries, but also of vast 
unknown spaces of other horizons, already divined by her 
precocious mind. 

In this castle there was a chamber the walls of which were 

papered with nothing but old newspapers, among which there 


J.-,! J. 


happened to be some lithographs of Ostrogradski's lectures 
on the differential and integral calculi, which her father had 
studied in his youth. These lithographs, with their strange 
formulas, attracted the attention of the little Sonya. 

She stood for hours together before the m]rsterious wall, try- 
ing to find out the meaning of certain phrases, or the order 
in which the drawings ought to follow each other. In this 
way the exterior appearance of some formulas fixed themselves 
on her memory, and the text itself left a profound trace on 
her brain. So that when she took her first lessons on the 
differential calculus with her professor, he was astounded at 
the rapidity with which she appropriated the ideas and 
methods connected with such studies. 

She had also read a work on physics which she found among 
her father's books, the author of which was a friend of the 
General, and one day, when this friend was on a visit to the 
castle, Sonya told him that she had been studying his work. 
He laughed at her, sa)ring that that was impossible, for she 
knew nothing of trigonometry. 

But, in the conversation which followed, it soon appeared 
that the girl had constructed for herself, from what knowledge 
she already possessed, the fundamental formula of trigonometry. 
Amazed at such a proof of intelligence, her father's friend in- 
duced the former to allow Sonya to take lessons, in spite of 
the conservative and aristocratic idea of what it was allowable 
to a girl of noble family to learn. The General consented, 
thinking this passion for study a mere caprice. But when, at 
the age of fifteen, Sonya seriously requested his permission to 
go and study in a German university, there was a terrible 
&mily scene. Her father could not have taken it worse, had 
his daughter committed some crime. 

In order to understand this, it must be remembered that at 
that epoch a Russian girl who studied was almost looked upon 
as a Nihilist. A political and patriotic enthusiasm for study 
had invaded the young generation ; there was a great striving 


towards light and liberty. And this enthusiasm had produced 
a very curious phenomenon : fictitious marriages were all the 
fashion, their aim being to free the Russian girls from paternal 
authority and enable them to study abroad. Thus Sonya, 
when still almost a child, was legally married to Vladimir 
Kovalevsky, with the understanding that they were to be no 
more to each other than fellow-students. With her sister and 
a female friend she went to Germany, where the three girls 
studied in one university and Kovalevsky in another. At 
that time Heidelberg was the only university open to women ; 
now all are closed to the sex, so that when Sonya Kovalevsky 
was already a professor at Stockholm, and wished to hear a 
lecture at the Berlin University, the permission was at first 
refused, but afterwards obtained, through the intervention of 
the Minister of Instruction, as a great personal favour. 

Sonya's first master was Professor Koenigsberger. After 
having attended his lectures for two years, she went to Berlin 
at the end of 1870, and took private lessons with Professor 
Weierstrass during four years, interrupted only by visits to her 
family in Russia and other journeys. In the year 1874 she 
received a degree from the Gottingen University. Her chief 
thesis, " Zur Theorie der partiellen DifFerenzialgleichimgen," 
is considered to be one of the most important ever written on 
the subject. Another, ^^ Ueber die Reduction einer bestimmten 
klasse Abel'schar Integrale 2^^ Ranges auf elliptische In- 
tegrale,** was published entire ten years later in the Acta 

Her studies finished, Sonya returned with her husband, 
who had also obtained his degree, to Russia, where Vladimir 
was nominated Professor of Paleontology at the Moscow 
University. It was then that the two actually became man 
and wife. Sonya shortly became a mother, and for several 
years all mathematics were completely put out of sight. 
During these first years of married life Sonya was exclusively 
a wife and a mother. With her extraordinary capacity for 


sharing in the interests of those with whom she lived, she now 
studied her husband's science with such assiduity that, for some 
time, when he was occupied with business af&irs, she wrote 
all his lectures for him. 

But she lived in literary circles, and by degrees her latent 
taste for literature was aroused, and she wrote a romance 
entitled "The Private-docent,** representing university life 
in Russia, which was published as an appendix in a Russian 

But this period of calm lasted a very short time. Sonya's 
husband was enticed into speculations of a dangerous character, 
and Sonya's patrimony was in peril. Although the Russian 
law would have enabled her to refuse her huslxmd the right of 
disposing of her property, Sonya did nothing but try to oppose 
her influence to that of the adventurer who was ruining him. 
She failed, and broken-hearted at the ruin, not only of her 
prosperity, but of her life's happiness, she left her little girl to 
the care of a friend, abandoned her home and country, and 
went to study in Paris in the Quartier Latin, where the 
terrible news reached her that her husband had not had the 
courage to outlive the disgrace he had drawn upon his family 
and his name. Struck by sorrow, and all alone, Sonya, who 
had been reared in luxury and total ignorance of all economy, 
had now to provide the necessaries of life for herself and child. 
In her own country nothing better offered than the post of 
mistress of arithmetic in the inferior classes of a female school. 

The University of Stockholm had been recently opened, 
founded on private means. Mittag Leffler was one of the 
first three professors nominated. He was an enthusiast for 
the new institution in his native city, and cherished the idea 
of doing honour to it by attracting to it the unique woman 
who had shown such scientific genius. On his invitation 
Sonya went to Stockholm in the autumn of 1883, and began 
a course of free lectures in the German language on the 
theory of partial differential equations. Meanwhile Mittag 


Leffler succeeded in collecting means for creating specially for 
her a chair of superior mathematics. 

In the commemoration made by Mittag Leffler, as Rector of 
the Stockholm University, after the death of Sonya, he thus 
speaks of her influence on her students : — 

^ She came to us from the centre of modern science full of 
faith and enthusiasm for the ideas of her great master of 
Berlin, the venerable old man who has outlived his favourite 
pupil. Her works, which all belonged to the same order of 
ideas, have shown, by new discoveries, the power of Weier- 
strass's system. We know with what inspiriting zeal she 
explained these ideas, what importance she attributed to them 
in resolving the most difficult problems. And how willingly 
she gave the riches of her knowledge, the genial divinations 
of her mind, to each student who had the will and the power 
to receive them ! Her simple personality, free from any trace 
of scientific affectation, and the eagerness with which she 
sought to comprehend the individuality of every man, induced 
all her students to confide to her, almost at the first meeting, 
their own most hidden thoughts and sentiments ; their 
scientific doubts and 'hopes ; their hesitancies before new 
systems ; their sorrows, disillusions, and dreams of happiness. 
With such qualities she entered on her teaching, and on such 
bases she founded her relations to her scholars." 

During the first years of her stay at Stockholm Sonya 
occupied herself with the study of the theory of the propaga- 
tion of light through crystals. On this she published a note 
in the Comptes Rendus^ which was translated into Swedish ; and 
she afterwards enlarged on the subject in a more extensive 
memoir in the Acta Mathematical 

She wrote another work on Lame's theory of elasticity, and, 
taking up the interrupted thread of former investigations, she 
also finished a work on the rings of Saturn. Meanwhile she 
had sent a thesis to the French Academy in 1887, in competi- 
tion for the Bordin prize "To perfect in some important 



points the theory of the movement of a rigid body." With 
Russian fatalism she had let a year slip by before commencing 
her work, and spent the precious time in composing two dramas 
in collaboration with the writer of this notice, whose literary 
occupations had attracted her, for she always felt the influence 
of the surrounding intellectual atmosphere in which she 
happened to be placed. The two above-mentioned dramas 
treated of" fidelity to oneself and to the essentials of life, or 
the abandonment of the essential in the chase of exterior and 
superficial success." Thus the work was entitled "The 
Struggle for Happiness." When remonstrated with on losing 
her time in this work, Sonya would say, " It does not matter ; 
I know that I shall be ready in time." 

In the spring of 1888 she began seriously to occupy herself 
with her thesis, working for whole nights together, and on 
Christmas Eve of that year the prize was awarded to her by 
the French Academy. The work appeared so notable to the 
Academy that, before publishing the list containing the name 
of the author, the prize had been raised from three thousand to 
five thousand francs. In resolving a new case of the problem 
of the movement of a rigid body, Sonya Kovalevsky had added 
her name to the great ones of Lagrange, Poisson, and Jacobi. 
Besides the thesis presented to the French Academy, she wrote 
two others on the same argument, both published in the Acta 
Mathematica, In the same year (1890) she also published 
some observations on a theory of Bruns, published in the same 

After the fatigue she had endured at this time, Sonya's 
scientific genius seemed to be temporarily exhausted. She 
returned to literature more seriously than ever. She had, since 
years, longed to leave the solitary world of science and enter 
the literary field, more fertile in personal joys. But the need 
of sympathy and intellectual ties with others was so strong in 
her, that almost she could not work alone. She possessed no 
aristocratic carelessness of the appreciation of her contempo- 


raries and personal friends. Rather she had an ardent desire 
to be understood and esteemed in every step she took, in every 
thought that occurred to her. It was not vanity or love of 
outward honours ; she had had enough of those to be aware of 
their emptiness, and was of too deep a nature to be satisfied by 
them. It was the essentially feminine need of being loved, 
and to provoke, not only admiration but joy among a large 
circle of friends, and the general public. Thus literature 
appeared to her more and more pleasing the older she grew, 
solitude weighed on her more, and the longing for sympathy 
became so acute as to cause her intense suffering. 

But she did not only demand and desire sympathy ; she had 
a unique capacity for giving it to others. Her conversation 
was as spirituelU and attractive as only that of a Russian can 
be ; but though she spoke willingly and much, she was at 
the same time an excellent listener, who gazed with her 
bright but short-sighted eyes into those of her interlocutor, 
and drew out his words with little impatient exclamations. If 
she approved what the other said, found a judgment just or 
an idea original, she received it with jubilee. If, on the 
other hand, she disapproved, she criticised what she had just 
heard with expressions which were very biting and often 
paradoxical. She never showed contempt, or opposed pre- 
judices to ardent thoughts. She had a large way of looking at 
all the questions of life ; and so pliable a mind, that she never 
stopped at a system of ideas once acquired, but always collected 
new ones and rushed forward to new conquests. In her 
manners she was always the grande dame^ and at the same 
time always simple and natural. She detested all exterior 
appearance of emancipation, and felt much more flattered if 
any one complimented her on her dress or amiability than if 
they admired her for her learning. In her young years she 
was really beautiful, but latterly her long wakeful nights of 
study, and her many sorrows, had left heavy traces on her fine 
and regular features. 


In the romance "The Sisters Rajevsky," the first she 
published in her own name, she related the story of her 
childhood in such vivid and true colours, with such finesse 
of observation and sentiment, that it at once obtained the 
success she so much desired — that of being personally under- 
stood, and of arousing sympathy in others. The publication 
of this romance in Russia, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, was 
saluted as a literary event, and it was said that a new Tolstoi 
was born to Russia. 

This felicitous entrance into the literary career stimulated 
Sonya's fertile imagination, which, besides, was aided by an 
exceptionally rich experience of outer and inner life, and four 
or five new literary works germinated contemporaneously 
within her mind. While yet a mere child, but already an 
acute observer, she had witnessed the great crisis of the 
liberation of the Russian serfs. In her romance " The 
VorontzofF Family," she tells the impression produced on the 
noble proprietors by this crisis. The daughter of one of 
these proprietors becomes a Nihilist, and is taken a prisoner 
to Siberia. The author read this book aloud to a scientific 
circle in Stockholm shortly before her death, and produced 
great enthusiasm. Fortunately the manuscript was found 
complete, and will be published. 

Of another romance, the " Vse Victis," only one chapter 
was published. Its fundamental conception reveals, more than 
any other work, its author's nature. Few women have been 
so much observed, fgted, admired, and covered with honour 
as Sonya Kovalevsky. Nevertheless, is this romance, which 
would, if finished, have become the true story of her inner 
life, she sings the praise of the conquered ; because she felt 
herself, in spite of the applause which surrounded her, as one 
defeated in the struggle for happiness ; the true happiness, which, 
for her, consisted exclusively in love ; in the life in twoy the 
want of which, all alone in a strange country, she so bitterly 


According to what Mittag Leffler says, Sonya had not 
thought of abandoning scientific study entirely. In the last 
conversation she had with him, the day before she was taken 
with her short and fatal illness, she told him of a plan for a new 
mathematical work, which she believed would be the most 
important she had ever written. According to her usual 
manner, considering herself gifted with second sight in all 
intellectual things, she said she had divined the solution of 
certain profound enigmas, which would open out a new path 
in the field of thought. 

Sonya was, indeed, gifted in a high degree with this second 
sight, even as regards the actual occurrences of life. 

She knew beforehand all that was to happen to her of 
importance, and on the last New Year's Day of her life, when 
she visited the Genoese cemetery in company with some 
Russian friends, she said, ^^One of us will die this year." 
After two months' holiday on the Mediterranean she returned 
northwards at the beginning of February. The cold was 
extraordinary, and she suffered much during the journey. 
She had given only one lesson at the University when she 
was attacked with violent inflammation of the lungs, which 
in three days destroyed her intense and flourishing vitality. 

Rarely has a death aroused such universal regret. Telegrams 
reached Stockholm from all parts of the world. Sonya's bier 
was followed by three carriages full of flowers, which were put 
on the snow that swiftly covered her grave. It was a quite 
southern luxuriance in the midst of the northern frost which 
had killed her. But she would gladly have exchanged all the 
splendour of flowers, which surrounded her in life and in death, 
for a modest flower from northern fields, which was missing 
amid this exotic pomp : the flower forget-me-not^ the symbol 
of the entire gift of a heart. 



Sjal af eld och sjal af tankar, 
Har Ditt luftskepp lyftat ankar 
Nu att stjarnciymder pl6ja 
Evigt, dar Du fbrr sigs drdja 
MIngen gang, dit stadd pa spaning 
Ofver varldssystemets daning 
Hdg din tanke lyfte vingen, 
Nar i stjarneklara kvallen 
Strila sigs Saturnus-ringen 
PS den dunkelblia pallen ? 

MSnne ifran h6gre zoner 
Analytiska funktioner 
Svaret nu dig finna lata 
Pa odddlighetens gita? 

Ljusets stralar frSn det hoga 

SSg Du fbrr med forskarns dga 
Mot kristallegrund sig biyta. 
Huru ser Du nu dem flyta ? 

FrSn de Ijusa himlavarldar 
Ofta nog du blicken vande 
Ocksl ned till morkrets hardar. 
Till var egen jords elande. 
Dar ocksa i hoppets stunder 
SSg Du mot kristallegrunder 
— Utaf kdrltk — Ijus sig bryta 
Och med mfirkret valdet byta. 

Sjal af eld och sjal af tankar, 
Tiyggast fann Du karleks ankar. 

:|c 3|e 4c 9|( 

SI farval och tack ! £j tacke 
Tungt den svenska jord dct unga 
Lif, som lamnas nu at grafvens 

LSnga, Ijufva hagn ! — Sa lange 
Som Saturnus-ringen svanger 
Sig pa fard bland Ijusa varldar 
Och an lefva man, Ditt minne 
Malas skall bland stora sjalars. 


0^^.. ,^~»^ 


(from the Swedish). 

The Original MS, of this work was written in Russian by 


and is an Account by her of her Own Life and that of her Sister 

under the fictitious name of Rajevsky. 







TANJA RAJEVSKTS earliest reminiscences were 
all connected, somehow or other, with journeys or 
with adventures which occurred on her travels. When 
in later life she sometimes sat with closed eyes trying 
to recall the first conscious impressions of her life, a 
broad dusty road would stretch itself out before her, 
bordered on either side with birches and mile-posts. 
On it was a huge travelling carriage large enough to 
contain a Noah's ark. From this monotonous, sombre 
background there stood out, like bright points upon it, 
memories of various incidents — such as picking up 
stones on the road while they waited at different sta- 
tions, or of throwing her eldest sister Anyuta's doll 
out of the window. There were nights, too, at the 
post-stations, with improvised beds on small, hard sofas, 
or perhaps merely on chairs which were placed together 
for the purpose. 

Tanja's father, Ivan Sergevitsch Rajevsky, was a 
general of artillery, and had often, owing to the 
exigencies of the service, to move from one place to 
another ; and, as a rule, his family always followed 




Kaluga was one of the places 'where the Rajevskys 
stayed somewhat longer than in other towns. Tanja 
was then five years old, and of this period of her life 
she has a clear and vivid memory. 

The Rajevskys had two children besides Tanja ; the 
eldest, Anyuta, was then twelve years old, and the 
youngest, Fedja, was a boy of three. 

The nursery was a large, low room, so low that 
when Njanja (as the Russian nurse is generally called) 
stood on a chair, she could without much difficulty 
reach the ceiling. All three children slept in the nur- 
sery. There was certainly some talk of Anyuta moving 
to the governess's room — ^that horrid Frenchwoman, as 
the children called her. But Anyuta had no intention 
of being without the others. 

The three beds, with latticed sides, stood side by 
side, so that in the morning the children could creep 
from one to another without touching the ground with 
their feet. A little way off was Njanja's bed, piled up 
with a whole mount^n of bolsters and pillows. This 
was Njanja's pride. Sometimes in the daytime, when 
she was in a good humour, she gave the children leave 
to jump and roll upon it. They climbed on to it with 
the help of chairs, but scarcely had they succeeded in 
boarding the top of the pile than it gave way under 
their weight, and they sunk down in a perfect ocean of 
pillows to their great delight and happiness. In the 
nursery there was always a peculiar smell, a mixture of 
incense, of reeking tallow smoke, and of coarse fir oil 
and birch balsam, which Njanja used for her rheuma- 
tism. The governess, that horrid Frenchwoman, could 


never come into the nursery without holding her hand- 
kerchief to her nose and mouth in disgust. 

'' Do open the window, Njanja," she would say in 
broken Russian. 

Njanja received this injunction as a personal insult. 

" What nonsense she does talk ! that heathen 
foreigner ! Am I to open the window and give the 
children cold?" she grumbled, as the governess left 
the room. Regularly every morning there was a 
skirmish between Njanja and the governess. 

The sun had long been shining into the nursery. 
The children gradually opened their sleepy eyes, but 
there was no hurry for them to get up or dress them- 
selves. Between waking and getting ready to dress 
there lay a long interval of play and romp, flinging 
pillows^ pinching one another's bare legs, and of ceaseless 
chatter. A delicious smell of coffee spread itself through 
the room. Njanja, only half dressed, and merely having 
changed her nightcap for the silk handkerchief which 
was her invariable head-dress in the daytime, brought in 
a tray with a huge copper coffee-pot. She served the 
children, unwashed and uncombed as they were, with 
coffee and fresh rolls in their beds. When this meal was 
over, it sometimes happened that they fell asleep again 
tired out with their play. 

But suddenly the nursery door would open with a 
noise and a bustle, and on the threshold would stand 
the indignant governess. 

" What, still in bed, Annetta ! It is eleven. You 
will be late again for your lesson ! " she would exclaim 
angrily in French. 


" How on earth can you let them sleep so long ? I 
shall complain to the General/* she would add, turning 
to Njanja. 

** For mercy *s sake, go and complain, you viper ! " 
Njanja would mutter after her ; and it took her long to 
calm down after the governess had left, grumbling to 
herself the while : 

" The master's own children, as if they could not 
sleep as long as they liked ! She will be too late for 
her lesson ! What a misfortune to be sure. And you 
would have to wait a little ! You can easily manage 

But notwithstanding her grumbling, Njanja would 
find it necessary at last to set about dressing the 
children in earnest. It must be owned that however 
long her preliminaries might take, the toilettes them- 
selves did not take very long. Njanja dabbed a wet 
sponge over their faces and hands, drew a jagged comb 
through their tangled manes, and put on their clothes, 
which not seldom were minus several buttons — and 
lo ! they were ready. 

Anyuta went down to her lessons with her governess, 
and Tanja and Fedja remained in the nursery. Without 
troubling about their presence, Njanja swept the floor 
with a brush, raising a perfect cloud of dust, spread the 
quilts over the little beds, shook down her own pillows, 
and looked upon the dusting as done for the day. 
Tanja and Fedja sat huddled up on the leather-covered 
sofa, through which here and there tufts of horsehair 
stuck up. They played together there with their toys. 
They were seldom allowed to go out for a walk — only 


when it was specially fine weather, or on great festivals 
when Njanja took them to church. 

After lessons were over, Anyuta would rush up to 
the others. It was much jollier with them than with 
her governess, specially as visitors often came to see 
Njanja — other nurses or ladies' maids, whom she would 
invite to coffee, and from whom they heard a number 
of interesting things. 

The nursery door would sometimes open, and on the 
threshold there would stand a beautiful lady, still young, 
and dressed in costly silks. There would be flowers in 
her hair, and on her arms and neck glittered bracelets 
and necklaces. It was Elena Pavlovna Rajevsky, 
Tanja's mother. She would be thus dressed for some 
dinner or supper, and had come to say " good-bye " to 
the children. 

As soon as Anyuta saw her, she would rush up to 
her directly, and cover her hands and neck with kisses, 
and begin to examine and try on all her trinkets. 

^^ When I am grown up I shall be just as beautiful 
and smart as mother,'* she would say, as she tried on 
her mother's necklace and craned up to look at herself 
in the little looking-glass on the wall. This always 
amused Elena Pavlovna very much. 

Sometimes Tanja also lunged to caress her mother 
and to climb on her knee. But the attempt invariably 
ended in her hurting her mother by her clumsiness, or 
by her tearing the fine clothes. So off little Tanja 
would rush, and hide herself in some corner. Tanja 
thus became somehow shy of her mother, and this shy- 
ness was increased by hearing Njanja often say that 


Anyuta and Fjeda were Elena Pavlovna*s favourites, 
and that Tanja was a step-child in the family. Though 
she had nursed all three from their birth, Tanja was 
somehow or other her special nursling, and she was 
highly indignant if any one was, according to her idea, 
unjust or hard on the child. 

Anyuta was so much older than the other two that it 
seemed natural that she should have precedence. She 
grew up in uncontrolled freedom, and knew no authority 
or restraint. She had free entrance into the drawing- 
room, where she from her earliest years, earned the 
character of being a charming child, and entertained the 
guests with her witty and even saucy sallies and remarks. 
Tanja and Fedja, on the other hand, only went into the 
reception rooms on great days, and they ate their break- 
hst and dinner in the nursery. 

Sometimes when there were friends to dinner, and it 
came to dessert time, Nastasja, Madame Rajevsky's 
maid, would come rushing into the nursery and say : 

^^Be so good, nurse, and be quick and put on 
Fedinka's light blue silk jacket, and bring him into 
the dining-room ; her ladyship wants to show him to 
the guests." 

" And what did the mistress tell you I was to dress 
Tanja in ? " nurse would ask in an aggrieved tone of 
voice, though she knew quite well beforehand what the 
answer would be. 

*' Tanja is not to go down at all. It is better she 
should remain in the nursery, such a little stupid as she 
is ! " answered the maid, laughing, knowing well that 
she would anger the nurse. 


And truly Njanja saw in this desire to show Fedinka 
ofF to the guests a great slight on Tanja. For a long 
while after she would go on mumbling from time to 
time between her teeth, while she looked sympathisingly 
at the child and stroked her hair, saying, " My poor 
little one!" 

It was evening. Njanja had already put Tanja and 
Fedja to bed, but she had not yet taken off the silk 
kerchief, the disappearance of which was the sign of 
her exchange of work for rest. She sat in the front of 
the round table, drinking tea with Nastasja. Twilight 
reigned in the room. The smoky flame of the tallow 
candle looked only like a yellow blur in the darkness, 
for Njanja had long forgotten to snufF it. In the 
opposite corner of the room flickered the bluish flame 
of the lamp before the picture of the saint, making 
fantastic figures on the ceiling and lighting up the 
Saviour's hand, which was stretched forth from the 
silver robe in benediction. Tanja already heard Fedja's 
close even breathing beside her, and over there in the 
stove corner she heard the heavy snoring of the nursery- 
maid, Fekluscha, of the upturned nose, Njanja's invari- 
able scapegoat. She lay on the ground on a piece ot 
gray felt, which she spread out every evening, and 
•which in the daytime was hidden in a cupboard. 

Njanja and Nastasja talked together in a loud whisper, 
as though they chose to believe the children ^ere all 
fast asleep, and they discussed all sorts of family 'matters 
without restraint. But Tanja did not sleep, but, on the 
contrary, listened with much attention to all that they 
were saying. Much of it she did not understand ; 


much of it did not interest her. Sometimes she fell 
asleep in the middle of some story, without hearing 
the end. But the loose ends of the conversation, which 
fastened on her mind^ came back to her memory in 
fantastic pictures, and left indelible traces on her whole 

" How could I help loving her better, my darling, 
my little dove, than all the others ! " she heard Njanja 
say, and Tanja knew well it was of her whom nurse 
was speaking. " I nursed and watched over her, and I 
only, from the very first. It was not at all the same 
with the others. When Anyuta was bom, her father 
and mother and grandfather and her father's sister never 
wearied of her. She was the first, of course. I never 
had a moment to nurse her in peace without one or the 
other of them coming up and taking her from me. 
But with Tanja it was quite a different matter." 

At this point of the oft-repeated tale Njanja would 
sink her voice mysteriously, which naturally made Tanja 
strain her ears more than ever. 

"She came into the world at an unlucky moment, 
my little dove, that was certain," continued Njanja, in 
a half whisper. ** Just when she was born, the master 
lost a great sum of money playing at the English club. 
It was so bad that all her ladyship's diamonds had to 
be pawned. How could they at such a moment be glad 
that God had sent them a daughter ? And they had 
both of them so desperately desired a son. My mistress 
said to me over and over again, * You will see, Njanja^ 
you will see, it will be a boy.' She had got everything 
ready for a boy, both the crucifix and the cap with its 


light blue rosette. And there was no boy at all, but 
only another girl. Her ladyship was so vexed she 
would not even look at her once. But then Fedinka 
came, and that comforted them." 

Njanja told this story so often, and Tanja listened 
each time with such intense eagerness, that at last it 
was accurately fixed in her memory. 

Thanks to suchlike stories, Tanja became convinced 
while quite a child that she was not wanted at home, 
and this reacted on the development of her whole 
character. She became more shy and more reserved 
than ever. 

If, for example, she had to go into the drawing- 
room, she stared round her and looked sulky, clutching 
Njanja*s skirt tightly all the while with her hands. It 
was impossible to get a word out of her. Notwith- 
standing all Njanja's encouragements and injunctions, 
she maintained an obstinate silence, and stared from 
under her hair at all the company with a frightened 
and defiant expression like a hunted creature, till 
Madame Rajevsky exclaimed in vexation, " Take away 
your little savage, Njanja. One is ashamed of her 
before strangers. It is just as if she were tongue-tied." 

Tanja was very shy with other children also, and 
rarely saw any. On the other hand, when she some- 
times went out with Njanja and saw street boys and 
girls engaged in some noisy game of play, she was 
seized with a sudden desire to share their game. But 
Njanja never gave her permission. "What are you 
thinking about, my darling.^ How can a little lady 
like you play with such vulgar children ? " she would 


exclaim, in a tone so reproachful and persuasive that 
Tanja instantly felt ashamed that she could have 
harboured such a wish. Soon she lost all desire or 
wish to play with other children. When some little 
girl of her own age met her, and wanted to say " How 
do you do ? " to her, Tanja never knew what to say, 
and stood there thinking, " Will she go soon ? " 

Tanja was much happier alone with her Njanja. In 
the evening when Fedja had been put to bed and 
Anyuta had gone into the drawing-room to the 
"grown-ups," she crept on to the sofa by Njanja, 
nestled up close to her, and then Njanja would tell 
her long tales. 

These tales made such a deep impression upon the 
child's fancy that no sooner did she lay down to sleep 
than they came back to her in her dreams, and the 
fearful forms of the "Black death," of were-wolves, 
and of twelve-headed serpents overpowered her with 
an almost suffocating terror. 

About this time a very strange thing happened to 
Tanja. She was overcome now and again by a 
strange horror. Usually it came over her when she 
was alone in the room when it grew dark. She might, 
for instance, be playing with her toys, thinking of 
nothing, when suddenly she would see a shadow 
growing up behind her dark and black, which seemed 
to have crept from under the bed or from out of the 
corners. It seemed to her as though something strange 
had crept into the room, and the neighbourhood of 
this new, unknown thing gave her such violent heart- 
beating that she would rush out of the room headlong 


to find Njanja, whose company was usually enough to 
comfort her. But sometimes it happened that the 
unpleasant feeling did not disappear for hours. 

Her parents explained it by saying that Tanja was 
afr^d of the dark ; but this was not really the case. 
For in the first place the feeling she experienced was of 
a very complicated nature, and much more like anguish 
than fear ; and secondly, darkness in itself did not call 
it forth, nor any of the circumstances connected with 
It, unless it were just the approach of darkness. She 
would often be seized by a similar feeling under alto- 
gether other circumstances ; as, for instance, if, when 
out walking, she came across suddenly a large un- 
finished house with bare, unwhitewashed walls and 
empty window spaces, or if in summer time she lay 
on her back out on the ground and stared up into the 

Other even more serious signs of nervousness began 
to show themselves in her, at this time. Among 
others an awful horror of all deformity. If she heard 
any one speak of children with two heads, or a calf 
with three legs, she trembled firom head to foot, and 
all the following night she invariably dreamed of the 
malformation spoken of, and woke Njanja with her 
heartrending shrieks. 

The very sight of a broken doll excited Tanja's 
discomfort If she accidentally let her doll fall to the 
ground, Njanja had to pick it up, and if it were all 
right, give it to her again. But if on the contrary it 
were broken, she had to carry it away so that the child 
might not see it. Once Tanja went into a convulsion 


because Anyuta, who found her alone and wanted 
to amuse herself at the little one's expense, forced her 
to look at a wax doll's head with its eyes knocked out 
and dangling from the head. 

Tanja was on the high road to growing up a nervous, 
sickly child, when her surroundings suddenly changed, 
and a new stage of her existence commenced. 


TANJA was about six years old when her father 
resigned his post and went back to his paternal 
estate at Palibino in the Vitebsk government, A 
rumour of the approaching emancipation of the serfs 
was just beginning to gather strength, and it was this 
which induced General Rajevsky to interest himself 
seriously in the management of his estate, which up 
to that time he had left in the hands of an agent. 

The move to the country was a great change for the 
Rajevskys. Their hitherto glad and untroubled life took 
at once a more serious colour. Hitherto General 
Rajevsky had taken very little notice of his children 
and their education^ for he considered that this was 
the duty of the wife and not of the husband. He had 
moreover given Anyuta, in some small degree, more 
attention than the others, just because she was older 
and also quicker and brighter than the others. He 
liked to have a game with her when he could manage 
it, and sometimes in winter he took her out sledging 
with him, and boasted of her before strangers. 

When she sometimes passed all bounds, so that the 
family were out of patience with her, and complained 

to the General about her, he would generally turn it 



into a joke. But if now and again he looked severe 
she knew very well that he was, as a fact, the first on< 
to laugh at her sallies. 

As far as the younger children were concerned 
General Rajevsky's intercourse with them was confined 
to asking Njanja, when he met them, how they were. 
He would aiFectionately pinch their cheeks, to assure 
himself that they were round and fat, and he often 
took them up in his arms and tossed them in the air. 
On high days, when the General had to go to some 
official function and was dressed in ftill parade uniform, 
with orders and stars, the children were called into the 
drawing-room to see how grand father was ! and this 
exhibition gave them all great delight. They jumped 
round him and clapped their hands with pleasure, at 
the sight of his shining epaulettes and orders. 

But shortly after their move to the country an inci- 
dent happened which in a most unpleasant way drew 
attention to the nursery, and made a deep impression 
on the whole house, and not least on Tanja. 

Things suddenly began to disappear out of the 
children's room — first one thing and then another. If 
Njanja wanted something which she had not used for 
a time she could never find it, and though she was 
quite certain where she had put it, and that she with her 
own hands had put it into the cupboard or bureau, 
it could not be found. At first every one took it 
calmly enough, but it began to happen constantly, 
oftener and oftener, until at last valuable things began 
to disappear. At last a silver spoon, a gold thimble, and 
a knife with a mother-of-pearl handle, disappeared one 


after the other. It was certain there was a thief in the 
house. Njanja, who considered herself answerable for 
all that belonged to the children, was more unhappy 
than any one, and decided, come what might, she would 
discover the thief. 

Suspicion naturally fastened, first of all, on the 
unhappy Felduscha, already mentioned. It was true 
enough that Felduscha had been for three years in the 
nursery, and that Njanja, during all that time, had 
noticed nothing wrong in her behaviour. But Njanja 
considered this proved nothing. "She was so young 
then that she did not know the value of things, but now 
she has grown up she is cleverer," she explained. " And 
now she has her belongings over in the village, and it is 
for them that she appropriates the gentlefolk's goods." 

As the outcome of such reflections, Njanja became 
firmly convinced of Fekluscha's guilt, and she began to 
treat her with more and more severity — and the poor 
frightened girl, who instinctively knew that they 
suspected her of something, looked more and more 

But however much Njanja watched Fekluscha, she 
never managed to catch her in the act. Yet still new 
things disappeared, and those already gone were not 
found. One fine day Anyuta's purse suddenly vanished. 
It was always kept in Njanja's cupboard, and contained 
at least forty roubles, if not more. This last loss 
reached General Rajevsky's ears. He instantly called 
Njanja to him, and with some severity commanded her 
to find the thief instantly. Every one understood it 
was no longer a thing to joke about. 


Njanja was in a state of despair. She awakened, 
however, at night, to hear a curious smacking of lips 
going on in the corner where Fekluscha lay and should 
have slept. Filled with suspicion, she quietly put out 
her hand for the matches and suddenly lit a candle. 
And what did she see ? There sat Fekluscha crouched 
on the mat with a large pot of jam between her knees 
and gobbling up the jam as fast as she could with the 
help of a crust of bread. 

It happened, moreover, that some days previously the 
housekeeper had complained that a pot of jam had also 
disappeared from out of her cupboard. 

To jump out of bed and to catch the criminal by 
her plait of hair was only the work of a moment for 

" Ah ha ! I have caught you at last, you scoundrel ! 
Where did you get that jam from ? Answer ! " she 
screamed, in a voice of thunder, while she roughly 
tweaked the girl's plait of hair. 

"Dear, sweet Njanja! I have done nothing, I 
swear," howled Fekluscha. " Maria Vasiljevna, the 
sempstress, gave me the pot last evening, but she said 
particularly that I was not to show it to you." 

The truth of this statement nurse greatly doubted. 

" Well now, madam, you don't seem to be very good 
at the art of lying," said she, with some contempt. 
" Is it likely that Maria Vasiljevna should think of 
treating you to jam ! " 

" Dear, sweet Njanja, I am not lying. I can swear 
that I am telling the truth. Ask her yourself I 
heated the irons for her yesterday, and she gave mc 


the jam in return. She only said to me, * Don't show 
Njanja ; she will only be angry with me for spoiling 
you,' " protested Fekluscha still. 

" Well, we shall see the first thing to-morrow," 
answered Njanja ; and while waiting for the morning 
she locked Fekluscha into a dark cupboard, whence 
her sobs sounded during the silence of the long night. 

Next morning came the investigation. 

Maria Vasiljevna was a sempstress who had lived for 
many years in the Rajevsky family. She was not a 
serf but a freed woman, and treated with much more 
consideration than the other servants. She had her 
own room, where she ate by herself and was served 
with food firom her master's table. She usually carried 
herself haughtily, and did not associate with the other 
servants. In the family she was much valued on 
account of her cleverness with her needle. ** She has 
fairy fingers," they used to say. She was supposed 
to be past forty ; her face was thin and sickly, with 
unnaturally large black eyes. She was not beautiful, 
but our elders thought that she had a distingue appear- 
ance. One would never believe she was a simple 
sempstress. She always dressed neatly and tidily, 
and always kept her room nice and well dusted, with 
a certain air of elegance about it. In her window 
usually stood a few pots with geraniums. The walls 
were ornamented with some small cheap pictures, and 
on a shelf in the corner were various small bits of 
china, swans with gilt beaks, and slippers made of roses, 
which gave the children great delight. To the children 
especially, Maria Vasiljevna was a person of great 


interest in consequence of the romantic story which 
was told about her. In her youth she was a really 
strong and lovely girl, and a serf of some rich lady 
who had a grown-up son. He was an officer and was 
home on leave, and whilst there presented Maria 
Vasiljevna with several silver coins. Unfortunately 
the old lady came into the servants' room and caught 
Maria with the coins in her hand. " Where did you 
get those from ? " she asked sternly ; and Maria was 
so frightened that instead of answering she put the 
pennies into her mouth and swallowed them. She 
immediately became ill and fell down with a scream. 
It was with difficulty they saved her life, but she lay 
ill for long, and lost from that hour and for ever her 
beauty. The old lady died shortly after, and the 
young master gave Maria her freedom. 

Tanja and Anyuta were always very much interested 
in this story of the swallowed money, and they often 
besought Maria to tell them how it had happened. 

Maria had to come into 'the nursery pretty often, 
though she was not on a very good footing with Njanja. 
The children also loved running into her room, specially 
at twilight, when she was forced, whether she would 
or no, to lay aside her work. There she sat by the 
window, leaning her head on her hand, singing with a 
plaintive voice various old and touching ballads — 
*' Through the dark valley," or " Dark blossoms, sad 
blossoms." It sounded very sad, but to little Tanja 
this plaintive sound was specially charming. Sometimes 
the singing was interrupted by a violent fit of coughing, 
which seemed as if it must rend in sunder her thin. 


feeble chest. She had for many years suffered from a 
bad cough. 

On the following morning after the scene with 
Fekluscha already described, Njanja turned to Maria 
with the query, whether or no it was true that she had 
given the girl jam. Maria looked at her as though 
something extraordinary were going to happen. 

" What on earth are you thinking about^ dear 
Njanja ? I am likely to spoil the girl in that way ! 
Why, I have no jam for myself! " she exclaimed in an 
injured tone. 

Now, of course, the matter was clear enough, but 
Fekluscha's impudence was so great that, notwithstand- 
ing this categorical denial, she continued to protest her 

" Now, Maria, for Christ's sake, have you forgotten 
what you did ? You called me to you yourself yester- 
day evening, and thanked me for the irons and gave 
me the jam " ; and she sobbed bitterly, her whole body 
shaking as though she had ague. 

" You mustibe sick, or delirious, Fekluscha," answered 
Maria, calmly, without a trace of emotion visible in her 
pale, bloodless countenance. 

There was no longer the least doubt of Fekluscha's 
guilt. She was taken away and shut up in a closet 
which was apart from the whole upper storey of the 

" You shall sit here, you villain, and you shall have 
neither bread nor water till you confess," said Njanja, 
as she angrily turned the key twice upon her. 

It was, of course, natural that the afikir caused the 


greatest commotion in the house. Every single person 
among the servants managed to come to Njanja on 
some errand or other, to talk over the interesting 
matter. The nursery was turned into a regular club 
that day, 

Fekluscha's father was dead, but her mother lived 
in the village near, and was accustomed to come to the 
house to help with the wash. She, of course, soon 
heard of the matter, and came rushing into the nursery, 
making a loud outcry, and swearing her daughter was 

But the nurse silenced her sharply. 

" Be quiet, now, and stop that, madam. Wait till 
we see what your daughter has done with the stolen 
things," she said severely, throwing such a meaning 
look at her that the poor woman was afraid and slunk 
shyly away. 

The general opinion was decidedly against Fekluscha. 
" If she took the jam, she is pretty sure to have 
taken the other things." 

The feeling was all the stronger because this mys- 
terious and repeated thieving, which had been going on 
for weeks, lay like a heavy weight on the whole of the 
servants, who feared that suspicion might fall on one 
or other of them. The discovery of the thief was 
therefore a great relief to all. 

But Fekluscha would not confess even now. During 
the course of the day, Njanja went several times up to 
the prison, but she repeated obstinately, " I have stolen 
nothing. May God punish Maria, for she has dealt ill 
with a fatherless child." 


Madame Rajevsky came that evening into the 

"Are you not too severe, Njanja, with the poor girl? 
Have you given her nothing to eat all day ? " she said, 
in a troubled tone. 

But Njanja would not hear a word of mercy. 

*' What is her ladyship thinking of ! Shall we pity 
such a one ? She has allowed honest folk to be sus- 
pected for weeks for her thefts, the miserable little 
being ! " she answered, so decisively that Madame 
Rajevsky, seeing she would not overcome her obsti- 
nacy, left the room without effecting the least 
amelioration in the little criminal's fate. 

On the following day Fekluscha still refused to 
confess. Her judge began to feel a certain uneasiness, 
but at dinner-time Njanja walked in with a triumphant 
air to Madame Rajevsky. 

" Our fine bird has confessed ! " she proclaimed with 

*' Well, then, where are the things ? " was naturally 
enough Madame Rajevsky's first question. 

" The little thief has not yet confessed what she has 
done with them," answered Njanja, in a troubled tone. 
" She talks all sorts of nonsense about forgetting where 
they are. But only wait ; if she sits there another 
couple of hours or so, she will soon remember." 

And sure enough, before the evening was out, 
Fekluscha had made a full confession, and related 
circumstantially how she had stolen the things so that 
she might sell them later on, but that she got no 
opportunity to do so. So she kept them hid for a 


long time under her mat in the corner of her cupboard. 
And when she saw they were certain to be found, and 
that they were banning to hunt down the thief, she 
got frightened, and at first tried to lay them back in 
their places ; but as she could not manage this, she tied 
them up in her apron and cast them into a deep pond 
on the other side of the estate. 

Every one was so anxious to close the disagreeable 
business that no one criticised Fekluscha's statement 
very keenly. Every one was rather vexed that the 
things were all lost, but they were relieved that the 
matter was explained. 

The criminal was allowed out, and on her confession 
followed a short, sharp judgment. She was to have 
a good beating and then to be sent home to her 

Notwithstanding Fekluscha's tears and her mother's 
protest, the sentence was really carried out, and another 
girl was taken as nursery-maid. 

After a few weeks order was gradually restored in 
the household, and the whole matter began to sink into 
oblivion. But one evening all was silent and quiet in 
the house. Njanja, after having put the children to 
bed, was herself beginning to prepare for bed. All 
of a sudden, the nursery door opened softly and mys- 
teriously, and the washerwoman Alexandra, Fekluscha's 
mother, came in. She alone had stuck out obstinately 
against the apparent truth, and was never weary of 
affirming her daughter's injured innocence. Many 
times she had had hot skirmishes with Njanja over this 
subject, until at last the old nurse forbid Alexandra to 


put her nose inside the nursery, and retorted that it 
was no use talking sense with foolish women. 

But this evening Alexandra looked so strange and 
mysterious that Njanja, at the first glance, saw that she 
had not come to repeat her usual dull complaints, but 
that something new and important was about to happen. 

** Look here, Njanja, I have got something funny to 
show you," whispered Alexandra, mysteriously, as she 
looked carefully round to assure herself no strangers 
were near, and she drew from under her apron the 
little penknife with the mother-of-pearl handle, the 
children's pet treasure, which had been among the 
things stolen by Fekluscha, and finally given up for 
lost as cast into the pond by her. 

At the sight of the penknife Njanja threw up her 
hands in astonishment. 

" Where did you get that ? " she said eagerly. 

" Ah ! that's just the point, where I found it," 
answered Alexandra, slowly, and was then silent for a. 
moment, evidently enjoying Njanja's emotion. " Philip 
Matvjejitsch, the gardener," she began at last, in a 
meaning voice, " gave me a pair of old trousers 
to mend, and in one of the pockets I found the 
knife ! " 

This Philip was a German by birth, and stood in 
the first ranks of the domestic aristocracy in the house- 
hold. He enjoyed fairly high wages ; was unmarried \ 
though to an impartial eye he seemed nothing but a fat 
and rather disagreeable German, no longer young, with 
a red, square beard, still among the women servants he 
found favour and was considered a fine fellow. 


Njanja certainly for a few minutes did not know 
what to think. 

" How on earth did that penknife get into Philip's 
hands ? " she asked, altogether crestfallen. " He never 
put his foot in the nursery, and it is not possible that 
such a person should steal the children's things ! " 

Alexandra looked at Njanja for a few seconds silently, 
with a long, malicious gaze. Then, leaning forward, 
she whispered into her ear a few words, in which Maria 
Vasiljevna's name was often heard. 

A gleam of intelligence began to penetrate Njanja's 
troubled brain. 

" Ah ! ha, ha ! Is that how it was ? " she exclaimed, 
throwing up her hands. " Oh, you sneak ! you villain ! 
But wait, we shall catch you ! " she cried, quite wild 
with spite. 

It turned out later that Alexandra had long had 
suspicions about Maria Vasiljevna. She had noticed 
that the latter had been more or less taken up with the 

" Now just think for yourself, if such a fine fellow as 
Philip would be likely to play the lover to such an old 
maid unless he got something for it. She knew how to 
bribe him with presents." 

And in truth she soon found out that Maria gave 
Philip both things and money. But how on earth 
could she prove all that ? And then and there Alexandra 
set on foot a regular system of espionage, arranged so 
that Maria might have no suspicion of danger. The 
penknife was the last link in a long chain of evidence. 

The tale was one of great interest, and took every 


one by surprise. In Njanja's mind awoke instantly 
that passionate detective instinct which so often lies 
slumbering in old women, and which, when roused, 
drives them to imravel the most tangled knots, even 
of matters in which they have no personal interest 
whatsoever. This feeling was strengthened in Njanja 
by the conviction that she had sinned against Fek- 
luscha, and she desired, if possible, to atone for this 
wrong, so between her and Alexandra a solemn bond 
and covenant was established against Maria. As the 
two were fully convinced of her guilt, they did not 
hesitate to adopt extreme measures. They were to 
possess themselves of her keys, and to go into her 
room on the first opportunity, when she was out, and 
search her things. 

No sooner said than done ! They proved beyond 
doubt that at last they were right in their surmises. 
The contents of the drawers confirmed to the full 
their suspicions, and proved to the fiill that the un- 
fortunate Maria was guilty of the petty thefts which 
had of late caused such a commotion. 

'*The insolent creature. So she went and bought 
jam and bribed poor Fekluscha with it so as to turn the 
suspicion on her. What a wicked thing to do! and 
she had not a spark of pity for the child ! " exclaimed 
Njanja, in horror and disgust, while she entirely forgot 
her own role in the story, and that it was she herself 
who, with her severity, had driven Fekluscha to a false 

But one can imagine the extreme indignation of the 
servants when the sad truth came to light. 


In the first excitement, General Rajevsky determined 
to send for the police and arrest Maria — ^but out of 
consideration for her sickliness and her age, and her 
long residence with the family, he let mercy stand for 
justice and determined only to dismiss her and send her 
back to St. Petersburg. 

One would have thought that she would have been 
well pleased with her sentence. She was so clever a 
dressmaker, that she had no fear of suffering from want 
in St. Petersburg ; and what position could she hope to 
hold in the Rajevsky family after such a history ! All 
the other servants had formerly been jealous of her, 
and had hated her for her pride and stuckupedness. 
But she knew, and knew well moreover, how bitter 
would be the punishment for her former overbearing- 
ness. And yet certainly, however strange it may seem> 
she did not rejoice over the General's sentence ; but 
begged and prayed for mercy. She clung with particu- 
lar affection to the house and to the corner in which 
she had so long sat and worked. 

'* I have not long to live, I know. I shall soon die. 
Must I close my days among strangers ? " she asked. 

'*That is not the real reason," affirmed Njanja. 
** She cannot bear to leave the house as long as Philip 
is there. She knows very well that if she leaves, she 
will never see Philip again. And she must have been 
desperately fond of him, or she, who has lived honestly 
all her life, would never have done this wicked thing 
for his sake in her old age." 

As far as Philip was concerned, he came out of the 
matter with a whole skin. It may be possible that he 


was speaking the truth when he swore that he had no 
suspicion whence the presents which he received from 
Maria came. In any case, it was not easy to get so 
good a gardener, and one could not leave the garden 
"** to the winds and waves," so it was determined that 
he should remain as before. 

Whether Njanja was right or not in the reasons she 
gave for Maria's clinging to the Rajevskys, it is certain 
that when the day of her departure came, she rushed 
down to the General, and threw herself on her knees 
before him. 

** Let me remain," she sobbed, " without wages ; 
punish me like a slave — but do not send me away ! " 

The General was moved by such affection for the 
house, but on the other hand he feared that if he for- 
gave Maria, it would have a demoralising influence on 
the whole household. He was in great perplexity what 
to do, when suddenly an idea struck him. 

" Listen," he said ; " although thieving is a great 
sin, I would forgive you if your sin had been stealing 
only. But through you a poor girl has suffered inno- 
cently. Remember that it is your fault that Fekluscha 
had to undergo the shame of a public flogging. For 
her sake I cannot forgive you. If you positively want 
to remain here, I can only permit it on the one con- 
dition that, in the presence of all the servants, you 
ask Fekluscha's pardon and kiss her hand. If you 
will submit to that, then, for God's sake, you shall 

Every one expected that Maria would not accept 
such terms. How could she, so stuck up as she was. 


humble herself in public before a serf girl, and into the 
bargain kiss her hand ? 

But to every one's amazement she consented. 

Presently the whole establishment assembled in the 
house to witness a strange spectacle — Maria Vasiljevna 
kissing Fekluscha's hand. The General had given 
special orders that it should be done in the most 
solemn and public manner, and a crowd of people had 
assembled, for every one was anxious to see the sight 
The elders of the family were also there, and the 
children had begged to be allowed to witness the 

Tanja would never forget the scene which followed. 
Fekluscha was quite overcome with the honour which 
so unexpectedly fell to her lot, and was even afraid that 
Maria would pay her out for this forced humiliation. 
She went to the General and begged him to excuse 
both her and Maria from the hand-kissing. 

" I forgive her willingly," she said, sobbing. 

But the General had worked himself up into a con- 
viction that it was necessary for him to enforce the 
severest justice, and only swore at her. ** Go away, you 
stupid, and don't meddle in things which do not con- 
cern you. It is not for your sake, but for principle 
sake, that it is done. If I had sinned against you — I, 
your master, mind you — I should have had to kiss your 
hand. Do you not understand that ? Now do be quiet 
and don't grumble." 

The frightened Fekluscha dared no longer make the 
least remonstrance, but stood where she was told and 
awaited her fate, trembling like a criminal. 


Pale as a sheet, Maria threaded her way through the 
rrowd which opened for her. She moved mechanically 
IS though in her sleep, but her countenance showed 
i fixed determination and such bitter rancour that 
ivery one shivered at the sight of it. Her lips were 
bloodless, and pressed convulsively together. She went 
:lose up to Fekluscha — " Forgive me," she cried ; it 
iounded like a cry of pain, and she took Fekluscha's 
land and raised it to her lips with an expression of such 
latred as though she would have bitten her. But 
suddenly a change came over her countenance, and 
Toth foamed round her lips. She fell unconscious to 
:he ground in convulsions and uttering heartrending 
screams. Later on it was discovered that she had 
x)rmerly been subject to these attacks, a kind of 
jpilepsy, but had carefully hidden the circumstance 
Tom her employers for fear they should not wish to 
ceep her. Those of the servants who knew of her 
nfirmity had, out of loyalty, not mentioned it. 

Tanja naturally did not know what an impression 
:his sudden attack made, for the children were, of 
rourse, at once removed, and they were so frightened 
:hat they themselves were almost hysterical. 

But the scene was all the more vividly impressed on 
ler mind by the effect it produced on the servants. Up 
:o that moment they had shown themselves exceedingly 
bitter and spiteful to Maria. Her conduct seemed to 
:hcm so shameful, that they experienced a kind of 
pleasure in showing her their contempt and annoying 
ler in every way. But now all was changed. She 
jecame suddenly invested with the character of a suffer- 


ing victim and an object of general sympathy. Among 
the servants a secret protest was raised against the 
General for the extreme harshness of his sentence. 

*'Of course she had done wrong," whispered the 
other women servants, as they gathered in the nursery to 
talk the matter over with Njanja as was usual after any 
great commotion in the family. " If the master himself 
had punished her, or the mistress beaten her with her 
own hand, as is the custom in other houses, it would 
not have been so dreadful ; one could bear that. But to 
have hit upon such a punishment, making her kiss 
Fekluscha's hand so that every one should see her ! who 
^ould stand such a humiliation as that ? " 

It was long before Maria became conscious. The fits 
continued for some time, one after another. At last 
they were obliged to send to the town for a doctor. 

Every moment the sympathy for the sick woman 
increased, and with it the anger of the servants against 
the master and mistress. 

During the course of the day Madame Rajevsky 
came into the nursery and found Njanja busily employed 
making tea, though it was not an ordinary "tea 
hour." So she innocently asked, " Whom is that for, 
Njanja? " 

" For Maria, of course — ^who else should it be for ? 
Can't one spare her a cup of tea when she is ill. We 
servants at least have some feeling of Christian 
sympathy," Njanja answered, in so angry a tone that 
Madame Rajevsky was quite confused and left the 
room hastily. 

Could this be the same Njanja who only a short time 


before was ready to flog Maria almost to death, if she 
had been allowed ! 

After a few days Maria got better again, to the great 
relief of the master and mistress, and continued to live 
with the Rajevskys as before. Nothing was said about 
what had passed, and she found that no one, even among 
the servants, upbraided her with what had happened. 

As far as Tanja was concerned, she too felt for Maria 
From that day forward a secret sympathy, but mingled 
with a certain instinctive aversion, and she never ran 
into her room as before. When she met her in the 
:orridor, she pressed herself against the wall and tried 
not to look at her, so frightened was she that Maria 
(vould fall down suddenly on the floor and begin to 
struggle and shriek. 

Maria probably noticed that the child was estranged 
from her, and tried in every possible manner to win 
back her former aflFection. Almost daily she surprised 
(ler with small presents. Now it was a bit of many- 
:oloured silk, now a new dress for her doll. But it 
5vas no good. The secret aversion remained un- 
:hanged, and Tanja ran off as soon as she was left 
ilone with Maria. 

Besides, Tanja now came under the influence of the 
lew governess, and that put an end to all intercourse 
svith the servants. 

But once, when Tanja was between seven and eight 
(rears old, she was running along the corridor, past 
Maria's door. Suddenly the woman opened the door 
md called out, " Come here, little missie, and see what 
I beautiful bread bird I have baked for you." 



It was half dark in the long corridor, and no living 
creature was there except Tanja and Maria. The sight 
of the pale countenance with the unnatural black eyes 
frightened Tanja, and instead of answering she rushed 
away as fast as she could. 

'^ Ah ! ha ! that is what it is, Miss Tanja despises 
me ! ** she heard Maria mumble. 

She felt as if she had been hit, not so much by the 
words as by the tone ; but still she could not stop, and 
ran on her way. But when she came into the school- 
room and gradually got calm after her fright, Maria's 
soft, sad voice sounded in her ears. The whole evening 
Tanja was ill at ease. However much she tried to play or 
romp, she heard this sad lament which seemed to haunt 
her. She could not get Maria out of her head. And 
as it always happens about a person whom one has been 
unjust to, all of a sudden she seemed to Tanja so good 
and kind, that she yearned to go to her. Tanja could 
not manage to tell the governess what had happened. 
Children are always so loath to speak of their feelings. 
As she was, moreover, forbidden to go with the servants, 
she knew her conduct would be praised, and she felt 
instinctively she would not like to be praised for it. 
After tea was over and the children were gone to bed, 
she suddenly decided to go to Maria's room instead of 
going straight to her bedroom. This was indeed a 
great and remarkable sacrifice on her part, for she was 
obliged to run quite alone through the pitch-dark 
corridor, which she always avoided and was frightened 
of at night. But now she took the courage of despera- 
tion. She flew as fast as she could run without daring 


to take breath, and rushed like a whirlwind into Maria's 
room. Maria had just eaten her evening meal, and as 
it was a feast day she was not working, but sat by the 
table with its white tablecloth and read in a little book 
of pious reflections. A light was burning before the 
ikon, and after the fearfully dark corridor the room 
appeared to Tanja unusually bright and pleasant, and 
herself so good and kind. 

** I came to say good-night, dear kind Maria," burst 
out Tanja in a breath ; but before she could say more, 
Maria had elapsed her in her arms and covered her 
with kisses. She kissed her so passionately and so long 
that Tanja was again frightened, and began to wonder 
how she should ever get away without hurting Maria 
again, when a violent coughing fit forced Maria to let 
go of the child. 

Her cough got worse and worse. " I lie and pant 
like a dog at night," she was wont to say of herself, 
with a kind of bitter irony. Every day she became 
thinner and more transparent, but she withstood every 
attempt of Madame Rajevsky's to send for a doctor, 
and looked very hurt and provoked if any one talked of 
her illness. 

Thus she lived on for two or three years, keeping 
about to the last moment. Only two days before the 
end did she take to her bed, but the death struggle was 
very terrible and hard. 

By the General's orders she received, according to the 
rural idea, a very grand funeral, and not only were all 
the servants there, but the family themselves, including 
the General. Fekluscha followed her to the very grave 


with many tears. Only Philip the gardener was missing. 
Without wdting for her decease, he had some months 
previously left the Rajevskys for a better situation some- 
where near Diinaburg. 


rHE unfortunate episode of Maria Vasiljevna was 
the prelude to a whole number of unpleasantnesses 
hich by degrees forced the General to pay a certain 
nount of attention to the nursery, with which he had 
therto troubled himself as little as possible. 

As often happens in Russian families, Ivan Rajevsky 
iddenly made the unexpected discovery that his children 
ere far from being brought up in the exemplary manner 
hich he imagined. 

To begin with, one fine day both girls went off, lost 
leir road, and could not find it till the evening, and 
id moreover eaten crackleberrics which made them ill 
r several days. 

This incident showed that the children were watched 

a very lax fashion. After this first discovery others 
llowed in rapid succession. Every one had till this 
oment imagined that Anyuta was a perfect prodigy, 
ise and developed beyond her years. Now it was 
ddenly discovered that she was not only unbearably 
oiled, but that for a girl of twelve she was woefully 
norant. She could not even write Russian correctly. 
To complete these misfortunes, it was discovered that 
e French governess had done something so shocking 

ax 3 


that it could not be even mentioned in the children's 
presence. Dismal indeed were the days which followed. 
In after years Tanja recalled them dimly as days of 
general domestic misery. In the nursery there was con- 
stant worry, tears, and cries. Every one squabbled; 
and it affected every one, innocent or guilty. The 
fether was furious ; the mother wept. Njanja howled ; 
the Frenchwoman wrung her hands and packed her 
boxes. Tanja and Anyuta sat still and did not dare to 
move, for every one vented their wrath on them, and 
each fault was now regarded as a serious sin. None 
the less did they listen with curiosity, and not without 
some childish glee, to their elders quarrelling ; and they 
whispered wonderingly one to another, what would be 
the end of all this. General Rajevsky, who did not 
believe in half-measures, determined on a thorough 
reform of his whole system of training. The French- 
woman was sent off. Njanja left the nursery, and was 
entrusted with the charge of the linen cupboard. Two 
new persons were installed in the house, a Polish tutor 
and an English governess. 

The tutor proved himself a thoroughly pleasant and 
good-natured man, who understood his business to its 
very foundation, but he exercised hardly any influence 
on the actual training of the children. The governess 
brought altogether a new element into the house. 
Though she was born in Russia and spoke Russian 
fluently, she had retained absolutely the typical peculi- 
arities of the Anglo-Saxon race — integrity, endurance, 
and the power of carrying a business to its end. These 
peculiarities were absolutely opposed to those of the 


family, which explains the extraordinary influence which 
she soon acquired. 

Directly she entered the house, all her endeavours 
were directed to make the children's room into a regular 
English nursery, in which she should train up pattern 
English misses. But God knows it was not easy to 
establish a hot-bed for English ^' misses ** in a Russian 
gentleman's home, which for hundreds of years or for 
generations back had been accustomed to autocratic 
arbitrariness, n^ligence, and slovenliness. Nevertheless, 
thanks to her wonderful indomitableness, she did in 
some measure succeed. 

The eldest sister Anyuta, who hitherto had been 
accustomed to unrestrained freedom, she certainly never 
managed to curb. They had two years of incessant 
sidrmishing and collisions, till at last Anyuta, when she 
was fifteen, renounced once for all the governess's care 
and control. As the outward visible sign of her 
freedom from tutelage, Anyuta's bed was moved fi-om 
the nursery to a room close to Madame Rajevsky's, and 
from that moment Anyuta considered herself grown-up. 
The governess, moreover, took every opportunity of 
showing obtrusively that Anyuta's education, however 
unsuitable, was no longer any concern of hers, and that 
she washed her hands of it entirely. 

All the more zealously did she concentrate her efforts 
on Tanja, cutting her off from the rest of the family, 
endeavouring to shield her from her elder sister's influ- 
ence as jealously as though it were the plague. The 
arrangements of the huge manorial house favoured her 
design, for it was so large that three or four families 


might have lived in it as one and the same time without 
getting in each other's way. Almost all the ground- 
floor, with the exception of a few rooms occupied by 
the servants and occasional guests, was at the disposal 
of Tanja and her governess. 

The upper storey with its reception rooms was occupied 
by Madame Rajevsky and Anyuta. Fedja and his tutor 
lived in a separate wing, and the General's business room 
was on the entresol of a tower which was entirely apart 
from the rest of the building. Thus, the different 
elements of which the Rajevsky family consisted each 
had its own territory without disturbing each other, 
the scattered members only assembling at the dinner 
table or at supper. 


THE wall clock in the bedroom close to the school- 
room struck seven. Each repeated stroke of the 
clock brought to Tanja, even through her sleep, the 
mournful consciousness that in a few minutes Dunjascha 
would come and wake her. But it was so delicious to 
sleep that she tried to persuade herself that she had only 
imagined she heard the hated seven strokes. She turned 
over and drew the sheets closer round her, and hastened 
to enjoy the short-lived bliss of the last moments' sleep. 
She knew that happiness would soon be ended. 

Now the door really creaked, and she heard Dun- 
jascha's heavy step as she brought in a bundle of wood. 
Then came a series of familiar daily repeated sounds : 
the sound of the blocks of wood as they were thrown '-> 
on to the ground : the striking of the match, the 
crackling of the dry wood as it was broken, the 
spluttering and hissing of the flames. Tanja heard it 
through her sleep, and it seemed to increase the feeling 
of enjoyment and to strengthen the dislike of getting 
up from her warm bed. " If I could only sleep for a 
moment — one little moment more ! '* But the noise of 
the flames got louder and louder, till it grew into a con- 
tinuous, regular roar. 



** It is time to get up, little missie," said a voice in 
her ears. And Dunjascha drew down the sheets with a 
merciless hand. 

Outside it had only just begun to get light, and the 
cold winter morning's first rays mingled with the yellow 
light of the stearine candle and gave everything a dead, 
unreal appearance. Is there anything more unbearable 
in all the world than getting up by candlelight ? Tanja 
sat crouched up in bed, and began mechanically to pull 
on her stockings ; but her eyes closed of themselves, 
and the hands which held the stocking became still. 

From behind the screen, where the governess had her 
bed, came a sound of splashing, spluttering, and ener- 
getic rubbing. 

** Don't dawdle, Tanja. If you are not ready in a 
quarter of an hour, you will have to wear the * lazy * 
ticket on your back at luncheon," cried the governess's 
severe voice in English. 

This threat was not one to be played with. Tanja 
does not remember any corporal punishment, but her 
governess had managed to replace it by a fearful substi- 
tute. If Tanja was guilty of any fault, she fastened on 
the girl's back a paper on which was written, in big 
characters, of what her crime consisted, and thus 
adorned she had to appear at the breakfast or dinner 
table. This was a punishment which Tanja feared 
more than death, and thus the governess's threat had 
the effect intended, of driving away every trace of 
weariness. She instantly jumped out of bed. Dun- 
jascha was already waiting by the wash-stand with a 
can of cold water in one hand and a bath towel in 


the other — for Tanja had every morning, in English 
^hion, a cold douche. A momentary icy coldness, 
and then a feeling as of boiling water rushing through 
the veins, and then a most delicious feeling of extra- 
ordinary vigour and strength. 

Now it was ah-eady light. Tanja and her governess 
went into the dining-room. The samovar steamed on 
the table, the fire crackled in the stove, and the clear 
light was reflected many times over in the hard-frozen 

Tanja was no longer in the least sleepy. On the 
contrary, she felt in such good spirits, so unreasonably 
glad and lively, that she longed to make a noise and 
laugh and play. Ah, if she had only had some com- 
panion, of the same age, with whom she could have 
jumped about and romped, and who felt the same over- 
powering wealth of young life as herself ! But she had 
no such comrade. She drank tea tite-a-tite with her 
governess, for the other members of her family — even 
Anyuta and Fedja — got up later. She felt such a 
wild desire to laugh and to be funny, that she made a 
mild endeavour to joke with her governess. But un- 
fortunately she was at the moment out of temper, a 
thing which often happened in the morning as she had 
some kind of liver complaint. So she thought it her 
duty to quash Tanja's inconvenient access of merriment 
with a freezing remark that now it was time to learn, 
not to play. 

The day began for Tanja invariably with a music 
lesson. In the large salon in the upper storey where the 
piano stood, it was so cold that her fingers were almost 


numbed with frost, and so swollen that her nails looked 
like blue spots. 

One and a half hour's scales and exercises, accom- 
panied by the monotonous tap of the governess's time- 
beating, chilled, as may be well imagined, all the life and 
spirit with which Tanja began the day. After music 
followed other lessons. As long as Anyuta shared them, 
Tanja took great pleasure in them, though she was so 
small that she could hardly have any real instruction. 
But she had begged leave to be present at her sister's 
lessons, and listened to them with such attention, that it 
often happened that when the fourteen-year-old Anyuta 
had by the next time forgotten the whole lesson, the 
little seven-year-old Tanja remembered every word, and 
solemnly repeated it all for her elder sister, which small 
triumph was a great delight to Tanja. But now that 
Anyuta had closed her school days and stepped into all 
the rights of ** grown-up " dignity, the lessons had lost 
half their charm for Tanja. She studied pretty dili- 
gently, but how much more willingly would she have 
striven if she had had a companion. 

Twelve o'clock was the hour of the mid-day meal. 
After they had finished the last mouthful, the governess 
went to the window to look at the weather. Tanja 
followed her wth beating heart, as the question was one 
of great importance to her. If the thermometer showed 
more than ten degrees of frost (R.), and if there was no 
wind, then she had before her the melancholy prospect 
of a walk with her governess, for an hour and a half up 
and down the snow-swept paths. But if, luckily for 
her, it was cold, or there was a wind, the governess went 


out alone for what she considered her indispensable walk, 
and Tanja was sent to the drawing-room upstairs to 
exercise herself playing at ball. 

Tanja did not appreciate playing at ball alone. She 
was just twelve, thought herself a big girl, and con- 
sidered it insulting that her governess should really 
think she could enjoy herself in such a childish way. 
But none the less, she accepted the governess's order 
with pleasure, as it gave her an hour and a half s 

The upper storey belonged specially to Madame 
Rajevsky and Anyuta, but at that hour both of them 
were in their own room, and there was not a soul in 
the big room. Tanja ran round the room a few times, 
kicking the ball before her, but her thoughts were far 
away. Like most children brought up alone, she had 
her world of dreams and fantasies of which her parents 
never dreamt. She loved poetry passionately ; the form 
and rhythm gave her a strange enjoyment. She devoured 
greedily whatever Russian poets she could get hold of; 
the more inflated, of course, and the more high-flown 
they were, the better they suited her. She had till 
then, moreover, had little opportunity of educating her 
taste. Schukofski's ballads were for long the only 
production of Russian poetry which she knew. There 
was no one in the family who interested themselves in 
this kind of literature, and even though there was a 
fairly large library, it consisted almost wholly of foreign 
books. Neither Puschkin, Lermontof, nor Nekrasof 
were represented in it. Tanja could never forget, later, 
the day when she first held in her hand Filonof s 


anthology, which had been bought at the teacher's 
express request. It was a veritable revelation for her. 
During the course of the few days after she got it, she 
went about as though out of her senses, mumbling 
half aloud to herself strophes out of Lermontofs 
" Mtsyri " and Puschkin's " Prisoners in Kaukasus," 
till the governess at last lost patience and threatened 
to take from her her precious book. 

Verse-writing had always attracted Tanja to such a 
high degree that from her fifth year she had written 
verses. But this occupation was not approved by the 
governess. She had ever before her the picture of the 
normal, healthy child, who was to develop into an 
exemplary English Miss, and verse-writing did not at 
all fit into that scheme. She therefore punished all 
Tanja's attempts at verse mercilessly. If by ill-luck she 
found a whole budget of Tanja's verses, she fastened 
the papers round the child's neck, and moreover read 
aloud several of the unlucky verses to Anyuta and 
Fedja, of course making fun of them the while and 
distorting them. 

But the punishment was of little good. When Tanja 
was twelve years old she was quite sure she was going 
to be a poetess. For fear of her governess, she dared 
no longer write down her verses, but she composed 
them in her head, like the ancient bards, and confided 
them to her ball. Bowling it before her, she was wont 
to run round the room declaiming in a loud voice two 
pieces of which she was specially proud — ** The Bedouin 
and his Horse," and the *' Seaman's Feeling when Diving 
after Pearls." She had also in her head another long 


poem, "The Whirlpool," something between "Undine** 
and " Mtsyri," but of which the first ten verses only 
were ready, and there were to be one hundred and 
twenty. Tanja did not lose courage, for she believed 
firmly and fully that this poem would in time become 
one of the gems of Russian literature. 

But the Muses are, one knows, capricious, and they 
did not always grant the poetic inspiration just when 
Tanja was tired of playing with her ball. And as the 
Muses did not come when called, Tanja was put into a 
hazardous position, temptation besetting her on every 

Near the drawing-room was a large library, and on 
the table and on all the sofas were strewn Russian 
magazines and foreign novels of the most fascinating 
kind. Tanja had been severely forbidden to touch 
them, for the governess was most strict as to what 
books she read. 

Sonya bad not many children's books, but those she 
had she knew by heart. The governess never allowed 
her to read any kind of book, even if it were specially 
written for children, without looking through it her- 
self ; and as she read rather slowly, and seldom thought 
she had time for such things, Tanja was often subject, 
so to speak, to a chronic state of famine. And when 
she suddenly found all this wealth of books within 
reach, how could she withstand the temptation. 

She fought some moments with herself. She drew 
near the books and at first only fingered them. She 
turned over a few leaves, and then read some lines here 
and there, and then jumped up and played ball again 


without looldng toward them. But by degrees the 
reading captivated her more strongly, and when she 
saw that her first attempt went off happily, she forgot 
her danger, and devoured eagerly one page after 
another. It mattered little if she did not begin with 
the first volume of a novel. She read with the same 
interest the beginning, middle, or end — adding, by dint 
of her imagination, what went before. Between whiles 
she took the precaution of playing a little with her ball, 
so that, in case her governess came back by chance to 
see after her, she should find her pupil playing as she 
was ordered. 

Usually this stratagem succeeded. Tanja heard the 
governess's step on the stairs in time to throw down the 
book before she came, so that the governess lived under 
the impression that her pupil exercised herself all the 
time playing ball, as became a good and proper child. 
Once or twice it, however, happened that Tanja was so 
lost in her book that she heard nothing and noticed 
nothing before the governess rose, as it were, out of the 
ground before her, and thus caught her in the very act. 
On this occasion, as usual when Tanja's guilt was 
specially great, the governess hit on the extreme 
measure of sending her to her father, ordering her to 
tell him herself what she had done. This was the 
worst punishment Tanja knew. 

Though General Rajevsky was in no way really 
severe with his children, he never was much with them 
except at dinner, and he never permitted himself to be 
the least familiar with them, except when they were ill. 
Then he was quite different. The fear of losing them 


made him quite another man. His voice became 
wonderfully soft and gentle, and no one understood as 
he did how to coax and play with them. They, on 
their side, idolised him in such hours, which they ever 
after remembered with pleasure. But usually, when 
they were all well, the General followed the rule that 
" a man must be strict," and was therefore very 
niggardly with his caresses. 

He liked to be alone, and lived in his own world, 
where none of the family entered. In the morning he 
went for a walk round his property, alone or followed 
by the steward, and nearly all the rest of the day he 
spent in his own room. It lay apart from the rest 
of the rooms, and formed, so to speak, the Holiest 
of Holies in the house. Even Madame Rajevsky did 
not go in without knocking, and none of the children 
would ever have had so bold an idea as to go there 

So when the governess said, " Go to your father, 
and tell him how you have behaved," Tanja was quite 
in despair. She wept, and fought against it, but the 
governess was unrelenting, took her by the hand and 
led or dragged her through the long row of rooms 
which led to the General's door. She left her to her 
iate and went away. It was no good crying any 
longer. Besides, in the hall outside Tanja saw the 
forms of some of the idle and curious servants, who 
looked at her with impertinent interest. 

" I expect the little miss has done something naughty 
ag^n," she heard a servant, her father's valet, Ilja, say 
with a half-compassionate, half-spiteful voice. 



Tanja did not condescend to answer him, and strove 
to appear as if nothing were amiss, and as if she of her 
own free will was visiting her father. She did not dare 
to return to her schoolroom without having fulfilled the 
governess's command — that would be to increase the 
offence by visible disobedience, and to stand by the 
door as a butt for the servants* scorn was unbearable. 
There was nothing left for it but to knock and go 
courageously to her fate. 

Tanja gave a feeble, a very feeble little knock. Some 
seconds passed which she thought an eternity. 

" Knock a little louder, miss ; papa did not hear ! '* 
remarked again that unbearable Ilja, who seemed much 
amused at the whole incident. 

There was nothing else to do. Tanja knocked 

" Who's there ? Come in ! " at last her father's 
voice answered from the inner room. 

Tanja stepped in, and stood in the shadow by the 
threshold. Her father sat ^at his writing-table with his 
back to the door and did not see her. 

" Who is there ? and what do you want ? " he cried^ 

" It is I, papa. Malvina Jakovlevna has sent me 
here," sobbed Tanja, in answer. 

The General now understood what had happened. 
"Aha! you have been behaving foolishly again," he 
said, endeavouring to speak as severely as possible. 
" Well, speak out ; what have you done ? " 

And sobbing and stammering, Tanja made her self- 



The General listened carefully. His ideas of training 
ivere most elementary, and pedagogy he considered was 
something with which only women should busy them- 
selves. He naturally had no inkling of the world of 
ronfused, complicated feeling which already began to 
develop in the little girl standing before him to await 
tiis decision. Absorbed by his masculine "business/* 
tie had not noticed how she had by degrees grown out 
of the chubby child of five years ago. He was doubt- 
less perplexed what he should do and say on the spur 
of the moment. Tanja's transgression seemed to him 
most trifling, but he believed firmly and truly in the 
imperative necessity of severity in the tr^ning of 
children. He was annoyed with the governess for 
not managing so simple a business by herself, instead 
of sending Tanja to him. But if matters were once 
brought to him he must show his power and his 
fatherly authority. So he put on a severe and dis- 
pleased air. 

"You are a naughty, disobedient girl, and I am 
much displeased with you," said he, and paused, not 
knowing what more to say. "Go into the corner," 
he s^d at last, for the only pedagogical wisdom which 
had remained in his memory was that naughty children 
should be put in the corner. 

And so Tanja, a girl of twelve, who a few minutes 
before had been in the company of a heroine who, in 
the last half of a volume, had passed through a thrilling 
psychological scene, had to go into the corner like a 
little stupid ignorant infant. 

The General returned to his business at his writing- 


table. Deep silence reigned in the room. Tanja stood 
immovable, but what did she not suffer and experience 
during those few minutes. She saw and understood 
so clearly how foolish and unsuitable the whole of this 
treatment was. A kind of inner shyness made her en- 
deavour to keep silent, and not to break into tears 
or to make a scene. But a bitter feeling of injustice 
and helpless wrath rose in her throat and nearly choked 

" How silly ! What does it hurt me to stand in 
a corner.^'* She sought to comfort herself thus, but 
it hurt her to think that her father could and should 
humble her so, the same father whom she was so proud 
of and who stood so far above every one else. 

It did not matter so much while she was alone with her 
father, but there was a knock at the door, and, under 
some pretext or other, in walked the unbearable Ilja. 
Tanja knew well that he only came out of curiosity 
to see how she had been punished ; but he pretended 
not to see her, fulfilled his errand without hurry as 
though he had not noticed anything peculiar, and only 
just as he was going out did he cast a malicious glance 
at Tanja. How she hated him at that moment ! 

Tanja remained so silent and still that perhaps her 
father had forgotten about her, and she had to stand 
there a long, long time, for she was of course too proud 
to beg forgiveness. At last her father remembered her, 
and despatched her mth the words, " Now get along, 
and don't do anything naughty another time." He 
had no inkling of the moral torture which the unhappy 
little girl had suffered during the foregoing half-hour. 


Truly he would have been horrified could he have 
looked into her mind, but as it was he forgot in a 
few minutes the whole business. Tanja went out of 
the room with a feeling of grief far above her years, 
of undeserved humiliation, so bitter that she only 
experienced the like agdn twice or thrice in her life's 
darkest hours. 

She returned to the schoolroom silent and subdued. 
The governess was delighted at the result of her method 
of education, for during the course of many days Tanja 
was so quiet and good that she found nothing to correct 
in her conduct. But she would have been less pleased 
had she known what an impression this extreme of 
pedagogic zeal had left on her pupil's mind. 

Through the whole of Tanja's childhood's memories 
ran, like a black thread, the conviction that she was not 
liked by her family. The melancholy impression, fed 
by the expressions she picked up from the servants, was 
heightened now by the solitary life she lived with her 

The lot of the latter was not one of the happiest. 
Ugly, alone in the world, no longer young, a foreigner 
in Russia, where she had never felt quite at home but 
always longed for English ways, she concentrated on 
Tanja all the affection which her stern, energetic, and 
somewhat unsympathetic nature was capable. Tanja 
formed the centre of all her thoughts and endeavours, 
and gave an object to her life. , But her love was hard, 
zealous, exacting, and without a touch of tenderness. 

Madame Rajevsky and the governess were two 
opposite natures, between whom no sympathy was 


possible. Tanja's mother, both in character and 
appearance, belonged to the class of women who never 
grow old. She was born a " Von Sch. * * *," a German 
family long settled in Russia. Her grandfather was 
a famous man of science, and her father head of the 
military academy. His position introduced him into 
the highest military as well as to scientific circles; 
and all the cultivated and distinguished people of 
that day in St. Petersburg met in his house. He 
had early lost his wife, but his household was looked 
after by his many unmarried sisters who lived with 
him : and thus it happened that Elena Pavlovna, as 
long as she was a girl, never came into touch with 
the practical side of life. She received a better educa- 
tion than many Russian girls of the day, and was an 
accomplished pianist, sang well, and spoke many 
foreign languages, and was well acquainted with 
German and French literature. 

She had also other artistic inclinations, though these 
were never so strongly marked as to demand of her any 
sacrifice or to encroach in any way on the sensibilities 
or convenience of the rest of the family. It was, in 
short, evident in every way that she was to cultivate her 
talents not for her own sake, but for the pleasure or 
others. In her father's house there were chiefly old 
and serious people who found it pleasant and refreshing 
to talk with a pretty, talented young girl, and Elena 
from her earliest youth had played the part of a fresh, 
sweet flower, which stood out in pleasant relief on the 
sombre background of academical surroundings. To 
all her father^s scientific friends she was the personifi- 


cation of that ideal child of whom Goethe sang, and 
whom, it seems, fate decrees as necessary a feature of 
each circle of grey-headed German thinkers as is the 
little busy flycatcher to the great dark-red rhinoceros 
around whose resort it flutters. 

General Rajevsky, Elena's husband, who was much 
older than herself, had from the very first been accus- 
tomed to consider her and to treat her as a child, and 
he kept this idea far into life. He called her Lina, or 
Lenotschka, though she always respectfully called him 
Ivan Sergejevitsch. He often scolded her even in the 
children's presence. They often heard him say, " Now 
you are talking nonsense again, Lenotschka." And 
Elena was never angry over these scoldings, but held 
fast to her opinion like a spoiled child who has the 
privilege of winning consent even for its most unreason- 
able whims. 

There is no doubt that had Elena stepped, on her 
marriage, into an old German patriarchal family, she 
would soon have become an excellent housewife. But 
in her husband's house it was not easy for her to 
develop any housewifely virtues. General Rajevsky 
was a widower when he married Elena, and though 
there were no children by the first marriage, the house 
kept to the customs which had been established at that 
time. The servants were all old family serfs, and had 
already usurped the reins of authority. The new 
mistress, who was almost a child, gentle and yielding 
in disposition, could naturally not excite respect ; and 
among the servants there was, from the very first, a 
kind of secret understanding to confine her dominion 


within the four walls of the drawing-room, and never 
under any circumstances to leave the sceptre in her 
small weak hands. At the commencement of her 
married life Elena sought sometimes to throw off 
the servants' yoke, but every attempt at interference 
on her part in domestic matters met with such 
obstinate, though respectful opposition, her commands 
were obeyed with such an evident desire to make them 
seem preposterous, that the results were naturally disas- 
trous. Nothing remained for poor Elena but to admit 
her own want of practical knowledge, and she drew 
back again humiliated ; so that her attempts only 
served to bring her more than ever under the tyranny 
of the servants. 

Of her children's governess Elena was afr^d, for the 
liberty-loving Englishwoman treated her often some- 
what fiercely, and considered herself the ruling power 
in the children's rooms and the mother as only an 
occasional visitor. As a consequence, Madame 
Rajevsky hardly ever appeared in the children's 
room, and never meddled with their training. 

As far as Tanja was concerned, she admired her 
mother heart and soul, for she thought she was the 
loveliest and most charming of ladies, though at the 
same time she always felt wronged by her. Why did 
she love her less than her other children.^ 

It was evening, and Tanja was sitting in the school- 
room. Although the lessons for the next day were 
all prepared, the governess kept her close there under 
different pretexts, and would not let her go upstairs 
to the others. From the drawing-room, which was just 


ve the schoolroom, there came a sound of music. 

dame Rajevsky generally played the piano in the 

ling. She could sit and play for hours together, 

>rovising and going from one motif to another. 

had great musical taste and a wonderfully light 

ch, and Tanja always listened with delight to her 

nng. Under the influence of music and of fatigue 

r lessons, she had a sudden fit of tenderness, and 

longed to slip upstairs and be coaxed by some one. 

w there were only a few minutes till tea-time, and 

governess at last let her off. Tanja rushed upst^rs 

witnessed the following scene. Madame Rajevsky 

already ceased playing the piano, and was seated on 

sofa between Anyuta and Fedja, who leant agdnst 

on either side. They were laughing and talking 

•rily when Tanja came in, but no one noticed her. 

stood some moments silently beside them, hoping 

t some one would take notice of her. But they 

tinued their conversation without disturbing them- 

^es. It needed nothing further to check Tanja's 

erness. " They are happy without me," whispered 

, bitterly, deeply hurt in her heart, and instead of 

(ling up and kissing her mother's delicate white 

ds, as she had intended when in the schoolroom 

i^nstairs, she crept into a corner far away from the 

ers and sat there and sulked till tea-time, and shortly 

r was sent to bed. 


THIS conviction of Tanja's that she was less loved 
than the other children hurt her deeply. It was 
all the worse, because very early in life there arose in 
her a longing for a strong, undivided affection. As a 
consequence of this, if any relative or friend of the family 
happened to notice her in the smallest degree more than 
her brother or sister, she immediately had for that 
person a feeling bordering on worship. 

There were specially two persons who in Tanja*s 
childhood became objects of her warmest affection — 
her father's brother and her mother's brother. The 
first, Peter Rajevsky, her father's eldest brother, was 
an old man of unusually noble appearance, tall, with a 
massive head covered with curly white h^r. His face, 
with its regular and severe profile, the grey eyebrows 
almost meeting and the deep furrow which cut the 
brow almost in two, might have seemed terribly stem, 
almost forbidding, if it had not been lit up by a pjur of 
good, honest, innocent eyes such as one generally finds 
only in a Newfoundland dog or in a little child. 

Peter Rajevsky was not a man of this world. 

Though he was the eldest of the brothers, and should 

have taken his position as the head of his family, he was 



treated by all his relatives as a kind of grown-up child, 
of whom one need take no notice. He had for many a 
long year been regarded as original and odd. His wife 
had been dead for some years, and he had made over 
the whole of his somewhat considerable property to his 
only son, whilst he kept for himself only an inconsider- 
able monthly allowance. As he was thus without 
definite occupation, he often came to visit his brother 
at Palibino, and stayed there for weeks at a time. His 
arrival was always considered by the children as a high 
festival, and it was always merrier and brighter in the 
house when he was there. 

His favourite place was the library. In all questions 
of physical exertion he was very lazy, and could sit for 
whole days without moving on the leather sofa, one leg 
over the other, blinking with his left eye, which was 
weaker than the other, and altogether absorbed in read- 
ing Revue des Deux MondeSy his favourite literature. 

To read, to read madly, furiously, this was his only 
passion. Politics interested him much, and he devoured 
the papers greedily when they came, once a week, to 
Palibino, after which he would sit long lost in deep 
meditation as to " what was the next piece of mischief 
that rascal Napoleon would hit upon.^" During the 
last years of his life Bismarck also troubled his brain 
pretty severely. He was for the most part convinced 
that Napoleon would make "mincemeat of Bismarck." 
And as he never lived to see the year 1870, he died 
undisturbed in this conviction. 

As far as politics were concerned, Peter Rajevsky 
was very bloodthirsty. To cut to pieces an army of a 


hundred thousand men was to him a very small ailair. 
He showed the same hardheartedness when he fancied 
himself punishing criminals. A criminal was to him a 
lay figure, for in real life he considered all men good 
and law-abiding. Notwithstanding the protests of the 
governess, he, for instance, sentenced all the English 
governors in India to be hanged. "Yes, missj all, 
all," he cried, striking in his warmth his knuckles on 
the table. At such moments he looked so savage that 
any one coming suddenly into the room would have been 
frightened at his countenance. But the next moment 
he was silent, his face took an uneasy, troubled expres- 
sion : he became aware that he had with his careless 
gesticulation disturbed the greyhound Grisi which had 
iust laid herself down by the sofa to take a nap. 

But Peter Rajevsky was in his glory when he came 
across an account of one or other remarkable scientific 
discovery. At such times the Rajevskys' dinner-table 
was enlivened by hot debates, whereas when the family 
were alone there reigned an almost obstinate silence, 
simply because for lack of common interest there was 
nothing to talk about. 

"Have you read what Paul Bert has just dis- 
covered ? " he would ask, turning to his sister-in-law, 
Madame Rajevsky. " He has made a kind of artificial 
Siamese twins by allowing the nerves of one rabbit to 
grow into those of another. If one hits one, the other 
instantly feels the blow. What do you say to that? 
Do you see what it will lead to ? " 

And then Peter Rajevsky would begin to detail to 
those present the contents of the newspaper article he 


ust read, while he involuntarily and almost un- 
ously adorned and exaggerated and drew such 
conclusions as to the aim and effect of the dis- 
ies as certainly never entered into the dreams of 

ter the statement followed a hot debate. Madame 
sky and Anyuta were almost always on Peter 
sky's side in their enthusiasm for the new dis- 
y. The governess, on the other hand, with 
n contradictoriness, was almost always the leader 
e opposition, and began with great eagerness to 
c the theories Peter Rajevsky propounded. The 
h tutor occasionally r^sed his voice to correct some 
nt mistake, but he wisely refrained from taking 
in the debate. As to the General, he played the 
of a sceptical and amused critic, who took neither 
side nor the other, though he had with his keen 
:e perceived and grasped the weak points of both 

lese debates sometimes took quite a warlike note, 
through some unlucky fate, though almost always 
ming with an utterly abstract question, would pass 
to some small personal insinuation. The hottest 
Datants were always Malvina (the governess) and 
uta, between whom raged a five-year-old, but 
t, quarrel, though it had been sometimes inter- 
sd by a short armed and watchfiil truce. 

Peter Rajevsky was somewhat surprising in his 
less in drawing all sorts of conclusions from 
ted facts, the governess on her part was not less 
irkable in her cleverness in application. She saw 


at a glance, in scientific theories apparently widely 
removed from practical life, opportunities of blaming 
Anyuta's conduct, and this in ways so unexpected and 
original that the others could not but be astonished. 

Anyuta was never in the least disconcerted, but gave 
her so malignant and impertinent an answer that the 
governess rose from the table and explained that after 
such an insult she could no longer remain in the house. 
Every one present naturally was troubled and ill at 
case. Madame Rajevsky, who hated squabbles and 
scenes, undertook the office of mediator, and after 
a lengthy negotiation peace was at last concluded. 

Tanja remembers later what storms were caused by 
two different essays in the Revue des Deux Mondes 
— ^the one dealing with the correlation of the physical 
forces (an account of Helmholtz' brochure on this ques- 
tion), the other Claude Bernard's experiment on the 
part of the brain of a dove. Helmholtz and Claude 
Bernard would have been much astonished if they had 
known what an apple of discord they had thrown into 
a peaceful Russian family, living in an unknown 
corner of the province of Vitebsk. 

But it was not only politics and accounts of recent 
discoveries which interested Peter Rajevsky. He read 
with equal delight novels, travels, and historical works 
— aye, even in lack of all else, children's books. It 
would seem that nothing could be easier than for a man 
of fortune to indulge this innocent passion. But never- 
theless, Peter Rajevsky owned hardly any books of his 
own, and it was only during the last years of his life, 
and thanks to the library at Palibino, that he was able 


to indulge in the only enjoyment for which he cared. 
The unusual weakness of his character, which was in 
such marked contrast to his stately and severe exterior, 
had during his whole life subjected him to the oppres- 
sion of another, and this oppression had been so 
severe that it had never been possible for him to satisfy 
any personal inclination or desire. 

The result of this same feebleness of character had 
made it evident when he was young that he was 
unfitted for the military career, the only one open in 
those days to a nobleman ; and as he was of a peaceful 
and contented nature, and had never kicked over the 
traces, his affectionate parents had decided to keep him 
at home, giving him, however, just sufficient education 
to prevent him sinking to the level of an ordinary 
country yokling. All that he had learned he had 
thought out or read about, and his knowledge was 
really remarkable, though, like all self-educated men, it 
was patchy and unconnected. 

Some subjects he knew very well ; of others he was 
quite ignorant. Even when grown to man's estate he 
continued to live at home, and he enjoyed his unpre- 
tentious position in the family, and was always utterly 
wanting in every trace of self-interest or egoism. 
The younger and much more brilliant brothers treated 
him in a rather bullying, good-natured, patronising 
manner, as though he were a harmless original being. 
But suddenly a piece of unexpected good luck fell 
from heaven upon him. The greatest beauty and 
richest heiress in the governmental district, Nadeschda 
Andrejevna N., honoured him with her attention. 



Was she caught by his prepossessing exterior, or did 
she coolly calculate that he was just the husband she 
required ; that it would be pleasant to have for ever 
at her feet a submissive, enamoured giant ? At all 
events she allowed it to be understood clearly that 
she would have no objection to presenting him with 
her hand. 

Peter Rajevsky himself would never have ventured 
to dream of such a thing, but the whole crowd of 
aunts and sisters hastened to apprise him of the good 
luck which had fallen to his lot, and before he knew a 
word about it he found himself the chosen bridegroom 
of Nadeschda Andrejevna. But the marriage was not 
a happy one. 

Although the Rajevsky children were fully persuaded 
that Uncle Peter was put in the world solely for their 
special pleasure, and were ready to chatter with him 
about every kind of folly which came into their heads, 
they had, nevertheless, an instinctive feeling that there 
was one subject of conversation which it would not 
do to meddle with ; they never dared ask their uncle 
about his deceased wife. 

Terrible stories about Aunt Nadeschda Andrejevna 
were, moreover, current among the children. The 
parents and governess never mentioned her in their 
presence, but the youngest unmarried sister of their 
father, Anna Sergejevna, sometimes had a gossipy fit, 
and told the children terrible things about her blessed 
sister-in-law Nadeschda Andrejevna. 

" God have mercy on us, what a viper she was ! She 
led me and my sister Martha a miserable life. And 


irother Peter had certainly his full benefit of her ! 
f, for instance, she was angry with any of the servants, 
)fF she rushed to him instantly and desired him to 
log the criminal with his own hand. But however 
jood he was, he would not do it without trying to talk 
ler into reason. But that certainly was hard. She 
)ecame angry with his remonstrances, and tiutied on 
lim with every manner of abuse. He was just a 
veak woman all his life, and no man. He sat there, 
iilent and meek, and listened to her. And at last, 
vhen she saw she could not anger him with words, 
»he took his paper, books, and anything that was on 
lis writing-table, and threw them into the fire, scream- 
ng out that she would have none of that rubbish in 
ler house. It went so far that she even took ofF her 
Jioe. Yes, she regularly boxed his ears, and he, the 
neek creature, tried to catch her hands, but very 
:arefully, so as not to hurt her, and said kindly. 
What is the matter with you, Nadenka ? do calm 
yourself Are you not ashamed even to do it in 
Dther people's presence?' But she was ashamed of 

" How could uncle stand such a wife ! Did he not 
'xy to get rid of her ? " we children all exclaimed, with 
deep concern. 

" Ah ! dear children, one does not throw away 
Dne's lawful wife like a glove," answered Anna 
5ergejevna. "And I must also say that however ill 
she treated him, he loved her just as much." 

*' How could he love such a crosspatch ! " 

" He did love her, however, and could not live 



without her. When she was put an end to, he was so 
miserable he nearly killed himself." 

** What do mean, Aunt Anna, by being put an end 
to ? " the children asked, in greatest excitement. 

But our aunt noticed she had let slip what she ought 
not to have mentioned, and broke off her story and 
began to knit energetically at her stocking, which was 
a sign that no sequel was to follow ; but the children's 
curiosity had been aroused, and would not slumber. 

" Sweet darling auntie, say ! " we asked her earnestly. 
And Anna Sergejevna probably thought she could not 
well stop now she had gone so far. 

" Well, you see, it was so — her own serfs suffocated 
her," she answered, suddenly. 

" Oh, how terrible ! How did it happen ? '* 

" Very easily indeed," said Anna Sergejevna. ** She 
had sent brother Peter and the children away some- 
where. At night her favourite maid Malanja undressed 
her and put her to bed, and then clapped her hands two 
or three times. This was a sign for the other mdds to 
hasten into the room, and Fedor the coachman and 
Jevstignej the gardener were with them. Nadeschda 
Andrejevna needed only to glance at them to see her 
danger, but she was not afraid and never lost her head, 
but swore at them. * What are you going to do, you 
rascals ? Are you mad ? Out of the room instantly ! ' 
And out of long use they were subdued, and went back 
to the door ; but Malanja, who was the boldest, called 
out to the others, * What are you thinking about, you 
miserable cowards ? Are you not more anxious to save 
your own skins ? Don't you understand that to-morrow 


she will send you all to Siberia ? * So then they took 
courage and rushed towards the bed ; some held my 
sainted sister-in-law down by hands and feet, and 
others piled cushions and bolsters upon her so that she 
was suffocated. She begged and besought them, and 
oflfered them money if they would let her live — but 
no, they would not be bribed. And Malanja, who 
was her favourite, made the others lay a wet handker- 
chief over her head, so that there should be no blue 
marks on her face. 

" But then they went and gave themselves up, the 
stupid slaves, and were whipped until they told the 
whole story to the judges. And they all got severe 
punishment for what they had done, and many are 
still leading miserable lives in Siberia." 

Their aunt remained silent, and the children too, 
filled with horror. 

'* Mind, now, whatever you do, don't say anything 
to your fether or mother about this. I was stupid to 
have told you," she added presently. But the children 
understood well that it was not a thing they could talk 
about to father or mother or governess. There would 
be a scene indeed, and no one would ever dare to tell 
them anything more. 

But in the evening, when Tanja had to go to bed, 
this horrid story followed her, so that she could not 
sleep. Once, when on a visit to her uncle, she saw 
a great oil painting, full size, of Nadeschda Andre- 
jevna, painted in the banal style customary at that 
time. And now her aunt's picture stood lifelike before 
her, small and delicately made, pretty as a porcelain 


doll, dressed in a red velvet robe, with a garnet necklace 
on her round white throat, with a bright colour in her 
round cheeks, a haughty expression in her large black 
eyes, and a stereotyped smile in her little mouth. And 
Tanja tried to fancy how those large eyes opened wider 
with horror, when she suddenly saw herself surrounded 
by submissive slaves coming to take her life. Later 
Tanja fancied herself in her place. When Dunjascha 
undressed her, it came over her all at once how it would 
seem if the maid's round kindly face were suddenly to 
have a wild, hateful expression, and if she were to clap 
her hands, and Ilja and Stepan and Sascha were to rush 
in, calling out, " We are going to strike you dead, 
miss ! " 

Tanja became thoroughly frightened with these fearfiil 
thoughts, and no longer tried to keep Dunjascha with 
her as long as possible, but was glad when she went off, 
taking the light with her. But Tanja could not even 
then sleep, without lying awake first and staring into the 
darkness with wide-open eyes, waiting wearily until the 
governess should come upstairs with the grown-ups 
from the card party. 

Whenever she was alone with her uncle, this story 
always came back to her involuntarily, and it seemed 
to her so wonderful and incomprehensible that a nun 
should have gone through so much in his life and yet 
remain so calm and happy as if nothing had happened ; 
he could even play chess with her, and make paper 
boats for her, and be roused to fire and flames by 
reading some article in the papers about the ancient 
bed of the Syr-Dayas, or something else of that kind. 


Children always find it hard to realise that their rela- 
tions whom they see in everyday life have, during 
their life, lived through tragic scenes, and have ever 
deviated from the common customs around them. 

Tanja sometimes experienced an almost morbid desire 
to ask her uncle how it had all happened. She could 
sit motionless by him for hours together whilst she 
tried to picture to herself how that great, strong, clever 
man had trembled before the little beauty his wife, 
how he had wept and kissed her hands while she tore 
his papers and books, or while she pulled ofF her little 
shoe and struck him on the cheeks. 

Once and only once in the course of her whole child- 
hood did Tanja venture to meddle with her uncle's 
sore point. 

It was evening, and they were together alone in the 
library. Her uncle as usual sat on the sofa, one leg 
thrown over the other, and read. Tanja jumped 
about playing with her ball, but at last tired, she crept 
on to the sofa close to him. She leant against him, lost 
as usual in her wonderings about his past life. 

Peter Sergejevitsch suddenly laid down his book, and 
asked, while he gently stroked her hair, " What is my 
little girl thinking about so deeply ? " 

" Were you very unhappy with your wife, uncle ? " 
exclaimed Tanja, impulsively and almost involuntarily. 
Never could she forget the effect of the unexpected 
question upon her poor uncle. His calm, stern coun- 
tenance suddenly contracted as though in physical 
anguish, and he put out his hands as if to ward off 
a blow. And when Tanja saw how she had vexed 



him, she was ashamed and ill at ease. It seemed to 
her as if she herself had taken off her slipper and 
boxed him on the ear. 

" Dear, darling uncle," she cried, " forgive me ; I 
didn't mean what I said," she whispered, and she 
nestled up to him and hid her face in her breast, and 
the kind uncle sought to comfort her over her indiscreet 

From that hour Tanja never again ventured on the 
forbidden subject. But she could always ask him any- 
thing else. She was considered his special favourite, and 
could sit for hours with him talking of every imaginable 
thing. He would unfold to Tanja the most abstract 
theories, quite forgetting it was a child to whom he 
was talking. But it was just that which pleased Tanja. 
He talked to her as he would have talked to a grown 
person, and she strained her powers to understand him, 
or at all events to appear to understand him. Although 
he had never studied mathematics, he had the deepest 
respect for this branch of science. He had obtained 
from different books a few mathematical ideas, tried to 
philosophise upon them, and often did so aloud in 
Tanja's presence. From him she first heard of the 
quadration of a circle, and many other such things, the 
meaning of which she could not of course quite seize, 
but which made a great impression on her fancy, and 
awoke in her a deep admiration of mathematics. She 
thought it a lofty, mystic science, which to the initiated 
opened a wonderful world, inaccessible to ordinary 
simple mortals. 

There was another peculiar circumstance which 


had early awoke Tanja's interest in mathematical 

When they moved to the country, the whole house 
had to be repaired and the rooms to be repapered. 
But as there were so many rooms there had been a 
mistake made in the estimate, and there was not 
enough paper for one of the children's rooms. To 
write for more paper to St. Petersburg was quite out of 
the question, for it was not worth the trouble for only 
one room. It had to wait until some convenient occa- 
sion occurred, and meanwhile, for many years the walls 
were covered with common waste papers. Among 
these there were several lithographed pages out of 
Ostrogradski's "Lectures on Differential and Integral 
Calculus," which General Rajevsky had studied when 

These pages, with their wonderful, intricate, and 
incomprehensible figures, had quickly attracted Tanja*s 
attention. She could stand for whole hours before the 
mysterious walls, trying to puzzle out the meanings of 
isolated phrases, and striving to find out the order of 
the pages. Through long and daily study of these 
figures she got the mere outward forms clearly fixed in 
her mind, and even the text left a deep impression on 
her mind, though she could not understand it at the 
moment when she read it. 

When many years later, as a fifteen-year-old girl, 
she took her first lessons in diflferential calculus from 
an obscure mathematician in St. Petersburg, he was 
astonished to find how quickly she got on and assimi- 
lated all the ideas connected with it, as though she had 
already studied it. 


The truth was that, somehow, the moment he ex- 
plained these for her, the true meaning of the figures 
and words which had so long lain in a forgotten comer 
of her brain, awoke in her inner consciousness. 


TANJA'S affection for her mother's brother, Fedor 
Pavlitsch, was of quite a diflferent kind. 

He was the only son of Mdme. Rajevsky's deceased 
father, and was much younger than she was. He was 
Kving in St. Petersburg, and as he was the only heir of 
the famous Sch-ska name, he was an object of the 
boimdless devotion of his sister and countless maiden 

It was a great event in the family when he came to 
visit at Palibino. Tanja was nine when he paid his 
first visit. For many weeks before they had talked 
about nothing but this uncle's visit. The best rooms 
in the house were put in order for his sake, and 
Madame Rajevsky saw after them herself, and had 
them furnished with the easiest chairs and sofas which 
could be found. A carriage was sent to meet him at 
the chief town a himdred and fifty versts distant, and 
in the carriage was put a fur and a skin wrapper and a 
plaid, so that Uncle Fedor might not be cold, as it was 
late in autumn. But many days before he was expected, 
a simple cart drawn by three miserable post-horses 
drew up in front of the steps, and out jumped a young 



man in a light overcoat, and with a leather wallet over 
his shoulder. 

**Good gracious, there is my brother Fedja!" 
exclaimed Madame Rajevsky, looking out of the 

" Uncle has come, uncle has come ! " sounded through 
the whole house, and every one ran into the hall to 
greet the welcome guest. 

" Fedja, my poor fellow, what on earth did you take 
the stage-cart for? Did you not meet the carriage 
which we sent to meet you ? Are you not shaken to 
pieces ? " asked Madame Rajevsky anxiously, while 
embracing her brother. 

It appeared that Fedor had started from St. Peters- 
burg a day earlier than had been expected. 

" Good gracious, Lina," he answered, laughing, and 
drying the frost from his moustache before he kissed 
his sister, ** I could not have imagined that you would 
make so many preparations for my coming. What was 
the good of sending to fetch me ? I am not quite such 
an old woman that I can't drive one hundred and fifty 
miles with post-horses ! " 

Uncle Fedor had a pleasant tenor voice, and spoke 
with a soft guttural tone. He looked quite young : his 
short-cut chestnut hair covered his head as with close 
velvet ; his cheeks glowed with the cold ; his dark 
brown eyes were bright and merry, and between the 
soft red lips, which were shaded by his moustache, 
shone now and again a row of strong white teeth. 

** How stately he is, and how beautiful he is ! " 
thought Tanja, and looked at him with delight. 


" Whom have we here — Anyuta ? " asked the uncle, 
pointing to Tanja. 

"What are you thinking of, Fedor? Anyuta is 
already grown up ; that is only Tanja," answered 
Madame Rajevsky, in an injured tone. 

** Gracious! is your daughter grown up? Look out, 
Lina, or you will be an old woman before you know 
where you are ! " answered Fedor, laughing, and kissed 
Tanja. She felt shy, she knew not quite why, and 
blushed red. 

At dinner, of course, her mother's brother sat in 
the place of honour near Madame Rajevsky. He 
had a large appetite, which did not prevent him chat- 
tering the whole time. He narrated several bits of 
news and scandal from St. Petersburg, and made the 
others often laugh, and he himself joined in often with 
a merry ringing laugh. All listened to him, even 
General Rajevsky, who showed him great respect, 
without a trace of that malicious patronising air he 
often put on to other young gentlemen of the family 
who sometimes came to visit, and which always gave 
them the greatest annoyance. 

The more Tanja looked at her new uncle, the more 
she liked him. He had already washed and dressed 
himself, and no one would have guessed, from his fresh, 
bright appearance, that he had just come from a long 
journey. The short coat of some English material 
fitted him and suited him better than any one else. 
But above all Tanja admired his white, well-formed, 
and carefully tended hands, with shining nails like pink 
almonds. During the whole of dinner she watched 


him incessantly, and quite forgot to eat, so lost was she 
in studying him. 

Gooseberry jam was served with the pudding. Fedor 
Pavlitsch took a good portion of it on to his plate. 
The large green berries looked most inviting as they 
lay there in the thick white sugar. He looked at the 
preserve, and he looked at Tanja, and then again at the 
gooseberries, and burst out laughing, such a merry 
infectious laugh that every one joined in, though they 
did not know why. 

** Do you know, Lina, all dinner-time I have been 
wondering what Tanja's eyes were like," said her uncle 
at last, as he tried to stop his desire to laugh. " Now 
I know : they are just like preserved gooseberries, just 
as big, and green, and sweet." 

They all found the likeness exact, and greeted it 
with a new laugh. Tanja blushed up to her ears, and 
considered herself almost insulted, but her uncle con- 
tinued, laughing — 

" But very much sweeter and very much greener," 
and that comforted Tanja a little. 

After dinner her uncle sat down on the sofa in the 
corner of the drawing-room, and drew Tanja on to his 

" Come, now, and let us make closer acquaintance, 
mademoiselle ma niece," he said. 

He began to ask her all sorts of questions about her 
lessons, and what books she read. Children always 
know better than their elders fancy what are their 
strong and weak points, and Tanja knew well that it 
was easy for her to learn, and felt she had an unusual 


amount of learning for her age. She was therefore 
highly delighted that her uncle had stumbled on this 
question, and she answered willingly and without 
pressure all his questions, and she saw that her uncle 
was pleased with her. 

" What an intelligent little girl ! How much she 
knows ! " he exclaimed repeatedly. 

" Now, uncle, you tell me something," said Tanja 
in her turn. 

" Yes, willingly, but it is such a serious young lady 
that we must not have mere children's tales," he said, 
laughing. **One can only talk of serious things 
with you," and therewith he began to tell Tanja 
about infusoria and sea weeds, and the building of 
coral reefs. It was not long since he left the university 
himself, and so he had all this fresh in his mind. 
Besides, he told his story well, and it pleased him that 
Tanja listened so attentively to him and looked so 
steadily at him, with those wide-open, green-gooseberry 

Afterwards the same thing happened each evening. 
After dinner both the General and Madame Rajevsky 
rested for half an hour, and the uncle had nothing else 
to do. So he would sit down on the corner sofa, take 
Tanja on his knee, and tell her all sorts of things. 
He invited the other children too, but Anyuta, who 
had but just left the schoolroom, was afraid of com- 
promising the dignity of a grown-up lady by listening 
to such instruction, which could only interest little 
ones. Fedja listened for a time, it is true, but he soon 
found it dull, and went off to play horses. 


Tanja, on the contrary, loved nothing better than 
this " scientific lecture," as her uncle laughingly called 
it. She thought this half-hour which she spent tite-d- 
tite with him the happiest of the whole day. She really 
worshipped him, with a kind of childish love to which 
little girls are more prone than old people believe. Tanja 
felt strangely confused every time her uncle's name was 
mentioned, even if it were the simple question, " Is uncle 
at home ? " If some one at the dinner-table perceived 
that she never took her eyes off him, and asked, ** How 
is it, Tanja, you are so lost in admiration of your 
uncle ? " she would crimson and answer nothing. 

During the day Tanja saw nothing of him, as she 
lived entirely cut off from her elders. But ever and 
continuously she had the same idea in her head through 
lesson and play hours — " Oh ! would it were five 
o'clock. If I could only meet uncle ! " 

Once during his visit to Palibino, the owner of an ad- 
joining property came on a visit with his daughter Olga. 
This Olga was the only girl of the same age whom 
Tanja had ever met. She did not come very often, but 
instead she always stayed some time, and occasionally 
over-night. She was a bright, lively little girl, and her 
disposition and inclination were altogether opposed to 
Tanja's, and anything like a real fiiendship could not in 
consequence spring up between them. Still, Tanja was 
always glad when she came, and all the more so because 
in her honour she was allowed to escape lessons and got 
a whole holiday. But this time Tanja's first thought 
when she saw Olga was, " Will she stay until after 
dinner.? " The chief pleasure of her conversation with 


her uncle was just this, that she was tite-^t'-tSte with 
him, that she had him all to herself; and now she felt 
beforehand that that stupid Olga's presence would 
entirely spoil everything. For this reason Tanja's 
greeting to her little friend was less hearty than usual. 
** Perhaps she will go home. earlier to-day/' she hoped, 
in silence, all the morning. But no ! It was evident 
that Olga would not go till late in the evening. What 
should she do? Tanja took courage at last, and 
decided to open her heart to her friend, and begged her 
not to disturb them. 

*' Listen, Olga," she said, insinuatingly, " I will play 
with you the whole day, and I will do whatever you 
like. But if I do, after dinner you must be good and 
go off by yourself and leave me in peace. I am always 
accustomed to talk for a little while to my uncle after 
dinner, and we do not want you." 

Olga agreed to Tanja's conditions, and Tanja fulfilled 
her share of the compact faitWully all the morning. 
She played with Olga at every possible game which the 
little girl wanted, however stupid it was ; adopted the 
most uninteresting roles which it was Olga's pleasure 
to invent for her, changed patiently from a lady to a cook 
at a word from her, and from a cook back to a lady. 
At last they were called to dinner. Tanja sat on hot 
coals all the time. " Will Olga truly keep her promise ^ " 
she thought, and glanced at her little friend uneasily 
and with a little wink to remind her of their compact. 

After dinner Tanja jumped up as usual to kiss her 
father and mother's hand, and nestled up to her uncle, 
waiting for what he should say. 




' "Now, littJc one, what shall we talk of t*.,.^^ 

, isked Uncle Fedor, while he lovingly patted h*; '^[ ^ 

,^ the chin. Tanja jumped with delight, and t(l-^°' ^ 

/ of his hand, thinking that she would go oi|!v' ^'^' 

accustomed comer, when she suddenly saw the |' '"'^^ ^ 

Olga following them. ,^' ^""'^ 

Tanja's craftily planned agreement had q ^^''i'- 

matters woree. It is quite probable that if sl|^ 

nothing, Olga, when she found her little frieni , . '^'^^ 

to talk learnedly with her uncle, would hai^',. '^ '*' 

that savoured of study. Sut when she saw. ^ 
was so interested in her uncle's narrative, ^ '"^^*'' 
to be rid of her at any price, she fincieij ^"^ ' 
talked of something very interesting, ant. ^' 

anxious to listen to it. q. 

" May J go with you? " she asked, in S^- 
tone, raising her beautifiil eyes to Uncle E^ 


"Of course you may, little one," he ai^ ^ 

a kindly look at her pretty, rosy face. 
Tanja cast a bitter glance at Olga, 


'ad J 

' fcne 

-( / however, seem to be in the least put out./^, '"^^ th, 

"But Olga does not care for thesi ^^_^^"''^- h 
will not understand it in the least," «'onJy'^" 
in an aggrieved tone. But this attemptj. ■' f 
f|. ^th her unfaithfijJ little friend did i 

'" ' "Well, then, to-day ■"- "-'"-■ 

Jfj simpler and pleasant, 

said her uncle, , 
by the hand and 
Tanja followed 

U' -"^ 


)wcver pleasing to OJga s taste and under- 
vas not at all what Tanja desired. It seemed 
bough some one had taken a treasure from 
ins hers by right. 

hnja, come and sit upon my knee," said her 
lud evidently not taken any notice of her 

k was too much insulted to let herself be 

pD this wise. "I don't want to," she 

Stily, and drew back sulkily into the comer. 

I looked at her with an astonished laughing 

b understand how jealousy was raging in 

^ty and was he bent on amusing himself 

Any way, he turned round dirtctly to 

Olga, if Tanja does not wish to come, 


)t wait to be asked twice, and bef(M^ 

re she was, her friend had taken her 

le's knee. That was an unexpected blow 

lad not thought tbst the matter wouid 



Tanja looked at her, looked and looked ; and then 
all at once (she herself never knew how it happened, it 
was as though she was driven to it) she fixed her teeth 
in Olga's round white arm just above the elbow, and bit 
her till the blood came. 

The attack was so sudden and unexpected that for 
the first minute all three were petrified, and only stared 
at each other silently. Then Olga uttered a penetrating 
shriek which recalled them to their senses. 

Tanja was seized with a wild, frightened shyness, 
and rushed blindly out of the room. " Miserable litde 
wretch ! " she heard her uncle's angry voice calling after 

Her constant resort in all her childish troubles and 
trials was Njanja's room, the same which Maria Vasil- 
jevna had formerly inhabited. There even now she 
sought shelter. Hiding her head on the good nurse's 
knee, she wept long and continuously, and Njanja, who 
saw how upset her darling was, asked no questions, only 
stroked her head comfortingly and covered her with 
caresses. " My poor little one ! Calm yourself, my 
sweet child ! " she murmured, and Tanja felt her great 
despair softened by this weeping with Njanja. 

Fortunately Tanja's governess was not at home that 
afternoon. She had gone on a few days' visit to some 
neighbours. So there was no one to look for Tanja, 
and she was free to weep her heart out in Njanja's little 
room. When she was calm the old woman made her 
drink a cup of tea, and then put her to bed, where she 
was soon asleep in a deep, obliterating slumber. 

But when she awoke next morning and remembered 


all which had passed the previous afternoon, she was 
desperately shy at meeting the others, for she thought 
she could never face any one again. But all went 
better than she expected. Olga had gone home the 
previous evening, and apparently had been generous 
enough not to complain of Tanja. She could see by 
the family faces that they knew nothing. No one 
upbraided her for what she had done, no one joked 
about it. Even her uncle appeared as if nothing had 

But, strangely enough, from that day Tanja's feeling 
for him underwent a great change, and was of quite a 
different character. The after-dinner talk was never 
repeated. Shortly after this event her uncle went back 
to St. Petersburg, and though he often afterwards 
visited the Rajevskys, and was always very kind to 
Tanja, and she on her side was very fond of him, there 
was an end to the heathenish worship which she had 
once bestowed upon him. 


THE country in which the Rajevskys* property 
lay was very wild, and far more picturesque than 
are districts situated in central Russia. The Vitebsk 
" government " is known for its huge pine forests and 
its many large and beautiful lakes. Through some of 
this district stretch the last branches of the Valdai 
Hills, and consequently there are not the same mono- 
tonous plains here as over the rest of Russia, but, on 
the contrary, the landscape is rounded and undulating. 
There is a dearth here as elsewhere in Russia of stones, 
but in this locality great bits of granite crop up quite 
unexpectedly in the midst of a field, or in a swampy 
meadow where the rank grass grows to the height of a 
man. These rocks stick up oddly above the succulent 
vegetation around, and appear so inharmonious with 
the soft rounded contours of the rest of the landscape 
that one feels inclined to ask almost involuntarily what 
freak of fortune has placed them there. 

One can but wonder if they may possibly be monu- 
ments dating from prehistoric times, of some unknown 
or, maybe, supernatural beings ; and, in truth, geology 
tells us that these boulders were brought here from afar 

by an intruding stranger, and that they are, in truth, 



interesting monuments, not of mortal folk or legendary 
gnomes, but of the great ice period, when these huge 
boulders were detached like grains of sand from the 
shores of Finland, and carried long distances by the 
slow, ever advancing, and all-powerful ice. 

The Palibino estate is bordered on one side almost 
entirely b" woods, which, though at first somewhat 
scattered and park-like, deepen by degrees and become 
more and more impenetrable until they form a royal 
forest. This stretches away for hundreds of versts, and 
in the memory of man no axe has ever been heard there, 
unless in the dead of night some bold peasant were bold 
enough to steal crown wood. 

Among the people there were a number of tales in 
circulation about this wood, tales in which it was hard 
to tell where truth ended and falsehood began. Of 
course in all Russian woods crowds of elves and fairies 
dwell, but although there was no question but that 
these creatures existed there, no one had, strange to say, 
caught a glimpse of them except old cracked Grounja 
and the ** wise man " of the village, Fedot. There were, 
however, many who could tell of meetings in the wood 
with suspicious persons. One legend told of a troop of 
robbers, horse-stealers, and discharged soldiers, hidden 
in its deepest thickets. Some said it was not safe for any 
policeman to go and look after them or to see what 
took place at night. As to wolves, lynx, and bears, 
there were few of the neighbouring peasants who had 
not had occasion to prove from their own experience 
that the forests were overrun with such creatures. 

For the most part it was said that bears were on good 


terms with the people round. It might happen some- 
times in the spring or in the autumn that one heard 
how a bear had carried off a cow or a horse from a 
peasant, but generally they contented themselves with 
eating a few sheaves of oats from the barn, or a little 
honey from the bee gardens. Seldom, very seldom, did 
one hear of a bear having a struggle with a peasant, 
and it generally turned out that it was the peasant's own 
fault who first attacked the poor bear. 

There were many who harboured an almost super- 
stitious horror of the forest. If it chanced that a 
housewife in one of the forest border villages missed 
her child towards evening, her first thought was that it 
was lost in the thicket, and she began to cry and shriek 
as though she had already seen the corpse. None of 
the Rajevskys' servant-girls would venture to go there 
alone ; but in company, and especially in charge of the 
young lads, they gladly wandered there. The intrepid 
English governess, who had a passion for long walks, 
showed at first a great contempt for all stories about 
the wood with which people sought to frighten her, and 
declared she would go walking there despite all the old 
women's tales in the world. But one autumn day, 
when she went out alone with her pupils and was about 
an hour's walk from home, she suddenly heard a great 
rustling near her, and was suddenly aware of a huge 
bear, who, with her two cubs, walked across the road 
about fifteen feet in front of her. She was obliged to 
admit that the stories were not exaggerated, and from 
that moment she never ventured far into the wood, 
unless she were followed by some of the men servants. 


But the woods lud not only horror and terror, but 
they were a never-failing source of delights of all sorts. 
They contained innumerable hosts of game — hares, 
guillenots, blackcock, and partridges. Hunters had 
merely to go and shoot ; the least practised shot could 
be sure of a bag. There were blackberries in abun- 
dance. First came wild strawberries, which certainly 
ripened a little later in the woods than in the meadows, 
but which, on the other hand, are much sweeter and 
juicier in the woods. And when they were done, came 
the bilberries, raspberries, and cranberries. So that before 
one knew where one was the nuts began to ripen, and 
then the mushrooms took their place. One can get 
rorsoppor even in summer, but for pepparling, kanta- 
relle, and riskor, autumn is just the right time. Old 
women, girls, and children, in the villages round, have 
at that season a kind of madness. Nothing but force 
can keep them out of the wood. They go there in 
great crowds, as soon as the sun rises, armed with 
earthen pots or bast baskets, and it is no good expect- 
ing them home till late in the evening. And what greed 
they display all day there ! One would think that when 
they had got so much good out of the one day away 
from home in the wood they would be satisfied ; but 
not a bit of it. In the morning, as soon as it is barely 
light, they must be ofF again. They think nothing but 
of gathering mushrooms, and are ready to go ofF to 
that from any work at home or in the fields. 

The Rajevskys had also their great forest expeditions 
in summer when the wild strawberries were ripe, or in 
autumn when it was mushroom season. In these the 


whole house took part, with the exception of the 
General and his wife, who were not specially given 
to such rural dissipations. Preparations began on the 
previous evening. With the sun's first rays three 
country carts drive up to the steps. In the house 
everything is gay and festive. Servants run about 
busily, carrying out china, the samovar, diflferent pro- 
visions, tea, sugar, dishes of pastry and fresh butter- 
cakes, and pack them into the carts. At the top of 
all they throw in baskets and bowls, to be ready for the 
projected mushroom gathering. Children who have got 
up at such an unearthly hour run backwards and for- 
wards, wild with delight, their cheeks aglow ftxmi 
the wet sponge polishing. In their delight they do 
not know what to do, but must finger everything 
and touch everything and hinder every one, and get 
incessant orders not to be in every one's way. The 
household dogs are naturally always deeply interested, 
like every one else, in the projected expedition. From 
early morning they have been in a state of nervous 
excitement, jumping between people's feet, and barking 
continuously and loudly. At last, tired with excite- 
ment, they stretch themselves out in the yard, near 
the steps, but their whole attitude expresses expectant 
waiting ; they follow every passer with anxious eyes, and 
are ready to jump up at the first look. The whole 
intensity of dog nature is concentrated in the thought, 
" Can they possibly be going without us ? " 

At last the preparations are made. The company 
get up into the carriages and take their seats as best 
they can. The party consists of the governess, tutor, 


iiree children, about ten maid servants, the gardener, 
md two or three men servants, and some five or six 
rhildren belonging to the outdoor servants. The whole 
>f the servant population are in commotion — all want 
:o go on the pleasant expedition. At the last moment, 
ust as the carriage is moving, the scullery-woman*s 
ittle five-year old Aksjuska runs up, and sets up such 
I howl when she sees that her mother means to go with- 
Dut her, that she has to be lifted into the carriage. 

The first halt is made at the forester's lodge, situated 
ibout ten versts from the house. The vehicles sway 
>lowly along over the swampy forest path. Only the 
first is driven by a real coachman ; the others are chiefly 
imateur drivers, who snatch the reins from one another 
ind force the horses to go in a zigzag fashion. Suddenly 
there is a jolt and every one jumps up. The cart has 
driven over a huge tree root. Little Aksjuska is nearly 
swung out by the jolt ; they are only just able to save 
tier by catching her jacket and lifting her up, much as 
3ne might pick up a puppy. From the bottom of the 
:art comes the crash of breaking glass. 

The wood gets thicker and more impenetrable. 
There is nothing to be seen but fir^, tall and dark, 
ivith their rich brown stems rising like gigantic church 
rapers. Only by the roadside grow a border of bushes, 
liazel elder, and above all alder. Here and there are a 
Few red quivering aspen leaves, or a picturesque rowan, 
Drilliant with its bright red berries. 

From the cart come sudden shrieks of delight. The 
:ap of a volunteer coachman has been caught in a dewy 
birch bough which overhangs the road. The branch 


brushes first one and then another of the cart riders and 
covers them with a small rain of dew. Then there are 
screams and jokes and witticisms without end. 

Now the forester's lodge is in sight. The house is 
roofed with boards, and looks incomparably more 
comfortable and neater than most peasant houses in 
" White Russia." It lies in a little meadow, and — ^an 
unusual luxury for a peasant in that neighbourhood — it 
is surrounded by a garden. Here among cabbage heads 
there are a few red poppies and some bright yellow sun- 
flowers. Some apple trees, full of red apples, grow 
tall in the midst of the garden, and are their owner's 
great pride, as he himself planted them, having taken 
them from the wild plants in the woods, and so grafted 
them that his apples rival the best fruit from the 
neighbouring estates. 

The forester was already over seventy. His long 
beard was quiet white, but he seemed active and agile, 
and had a serious and noble countenance. He was 
taller and broader built than most " White Russians," 
and in his face was reflected some of the forest's clear 
and majestic calm. All his children were provided for. 
His daughters were married, and his sons had followed 
different trades in the neighbourhood. He lived alone 
with his wife and foster-child, a boy of fifteen whom he 
had adopted in his old age. 

As soon as the old woman had seen the most distant 
symptom of visitors, she hastened to prepare the 
samovar, and when the carts drove up to the door there 
stood the old man and woman ready to receive the party 
with deep salutations, and begged their visitors not to 


refuse a cup of tea. Inside the room everything was 
clean and tidy, though the air was heavy and close and 
full of the stale odours of incense and lamp oil, for, 
for fear of the winter s cold, the windows were small 
and almost hermetically sealed against it. 

After the fresh forest drive it was difficult to 
breathe for the first few minutes, but the room con- 
tained so many interesting things that the children soon 
accustomed themselves to the heavy air and began to 
look about them inquisitively. The mud floor was 
strewn with pine foliage ; the benches went round the 
walls, and a tame jackdaw with clipped wings hopped 
about without being the least disturbed by the presence 
of a large black cat. The two seemed very good 
friends. The cat sat up on her two back legs washing 
herself with her forepaws, and, whilst she pretended to 
be quite indifferent, examined her guests from her half- 
closed eyes. In the far corner stood a large wooden 
table, covered with a white tablecloth with an em- 
broidered border, and over it hung a shrine with an 
antiquated, hideous, and distorted picture of a saint. It 
was reported that the forester was a raskolnik (dis- 
senter), and to this circumstance might be attributed 
the unusual cleanliness and prosperity of his dwelling. 

It is a well-known fact that these dissenters never 
enter a tavern, and that they set great store by cleanli- 
ness, both of their dwellings and of their lives. It was 
further said that the forester yearly bribed both priest 
and police with a big sum, in order that they should 
not interfere with his convictions ; nor force him to go 
to the orthodox church ; nor make any fuss whether 


he went to the dissenting meeting or no. It was also 
affirmed that he never ate a morsel in an orthodox 
house, and that at home he kept separate dishes for 
orthodox guests. Were such guests never so distin- 
guished, he never offered them anything ofF plate or 
dish from which he himself ate. It would have 
rendered his vessel unclean, just as though a dog or 
unclean animal had eaten from it. The children were 
very anxious to ask, but they dared not, if Uncle Jacob 
— for so they called the forester — thought them unclean. 

For the rest they were very fond of Uncle Jacob. 
To be with him was the greatest pleasure they could 
imagine. When he sometimes came to Palibino to 
visit them, he always made them some little present 
which pleased them more than the most expensive toy. 
For instance, once he had given them an elk calf, which 
lived for long in their park but never became quite 

The great copper samovar steamed on the table, and 
difi^erent kinds of uncommon delicacies were spread 
before them — varenetz (a Russian dish made of sour 
milk cooked in a particular way so as to be very rich 
and tasty), pancakes with poppy-seed preserve, and 
honey- cucumber — all dainties which the children never 
tasted except at Uncle Jacob's. He entertained his 
guests very zealously, but tasted not a bit himself. " Of 
course it is true that he thinks us unclean," thought the 
children. While he held a solemn, somewhat slow con- 
versation with the tutor, he used several peculiar local 
idioms which the children could not understand ; but 
they greatly loved to hear old Jacob talk, for he knew 


so much about the woods and the wild animals, and 
what the animals thought and what they did. 

It was already about six o'clock in the morning. (It 
was wonderfiil to think that one was usually in bed at 
that time when the day was really so far advanced.) 
There was no time to tarry. Every one dispersed 
through the wood, and shouted to one another so that 
they might not get too far from each other or lose their 

Who would manage to pick most mushrooms .? That 
question set all off, and self-interest at once blossomed 
out. Tanja considered at that moment that nothing 
Mras more important in all the world than that her 
basket should be filled as quickly as possible. "O God ! 
let me get many, many mushrooms," she prayed passion- 
ately, and as soon as she saw in the distance a yellow or 
red-brown cap, off she went full speed so that no one 
should be before her and rob her of her booty. But 
what a mistake she had made ! Now it was a leaf 
which she had taken for a mushroom ; now she fancied 
it was a bright brown hat of the delicious rorsoppor 
shyly peeping up out of the moss, and pounced upon 
it eagerly, but instead of the head being white and 
thick underneath, it was traversed by deep furrows, 
and she discovered it was only a worthless kind which 
had a deceptive likeness to the rorsoppor. But most 
vexatious of all was it to Tanja to find that she had, 
as it happened over and over again, passed a place 
without noticing anything, while the sharp-eyed Fek- 
luscha almost in her footsteps had gathered the most 
delicious little mushroom. That horrid Fekluscha ! 


It seemed as though she knew exactly where the best 
mushrooms were, as though she drew them out of the 
ground by magic. Her basket was full ah-eady to the 
brim, and that into the bargain with riskor and small 
mushrooms, besides different kinds of rorsoppor, and she 
had not thought it worth while to gather tickor and 
pepparling. Her mushrooms looked so delightful and 
appetising, one could have eaten them raw. Tanja's 
basket, on the contrary, was only half full, and that of 
all sorts of big, ugly, dirty mushrooms, so that she was 
ashamed to show them. 

At three o'clock another rest was taken. In the 
meadow where the unharnessed horses were feasting, the 
coachman had lit a fire. A servant ran down to the 
neighbouring spring to fill a water-bottle. The servants 
spread a tablecloth on the grass, and put the samovar 
on it, and glasses and plates. The gentlefolk sat in a 
group together, and the servants took up their places 
respectfully at a little distance. But this arrangement 
only lasted for the first quarter of an hour. It was 
such a remarkable and special day, that all distinctions 
were relaxed. All were possessed by the same devouring 
interest, and so the company gradually mixed itself. 
Every one wanted to boast of their own gathering and 
to see how much others had gathered. Besides, every 
one had something to relate about their adventures. 
One had started a hare, another had seen a badgers 
home, and a third had nearly stepped on a snake. 

After eating and resting a little, mushroom picking 
began again. But the previous eagerness was gone. 
The weary feet almost gave way, and though there 


were only a few more mushrooms in each basket, 
they had all of a sudden become so heavy that they 
seemed to pull the arms out of joint. The swollen 
eyes refused to do their duty ; they saw mushrooms 
where there were none, and glared at real mushrooms 
without seeing them. 

Tanja was now indifferent as to whether her 
basket was filled or not, but on the contrary she 
was more susceptible to the impressions of the 
forest. The sun was going down, and its oblique 
rays shot across the bare tree-stems, colouring them 
with a brick-red light. The little forest lake, with flat 
shore, lay so nonchalantly silent and still, that it seem 
spellbound. The water was already dark, almost black, 
only in one corner there was a glimmering crimson, 
almost blood-red patch. 

It was time to think of going home. The whole 
party packed again into the carts. During the day 
every one had been so engrossed with their own busi- 
ness that no one had paid attention to others. But now 
every one looked at each other and suddenly burst 
into irresistible laughter. They all looked like fantastic 
denizens of the wood. A single day spent in the open 
air had tanned and crimsoned the faces, entangled their 
hair, and brought their clothes into wild disorder. Of 
course every one had put on their oldest clothes for this 
forest expedition, so that they need not trouble to look 
after them. But in the morning every one had looked 
so nice, and now they were only too laughable. One 
had lost her shoes in the wood, another had tatters 
hanging round her instead of a skirt. Their head-gear 


was specially remarkable. One maid-servant had stuck 
a huge bunch of red rowan berries in her rough black 
plait ; another had made a helmet of a fern leaf ; and 
a third had stuck a huge mushroom on a cane and hek 
it like a parasol. 

Tanja had twisted round her head a long tr^ o 
hops, whose yellow-green sprays, mingling with thi 
brown hair which hung round her shoulders, gam 
her the appearance of a Bacchante. Her cheeks glowo 
and her eyes shone. 

" Hail to Her Majesty Queen of the Gipsies ! " he 
brother Fedja exclaimed, while he pretended to do ho 

And even the governess, after she had seen her, wai 
obliged to own with a sigh that she looked more like t 
gipsy than a well brought up young lady. But th 
governess little knew how Tanja in that moment longec 
to be a real gipsy. That day in the wood had arousec 
many wild nomad instincts in her. She did not at al 
want to go home, but she would gladly have passed ha 
whole life in these wonderful, beautifid woods. Manj 
dreams and fantasies of distant journeys and of un- 
heard-of adventures swarmed in her brain. 

The journey homeward was a silent one. There was 
no shouting and merry laughter, as in the morning 
All were tired, every one was quiet, and had a wonder- 
ful, almost solemn feeling. Some of the servant-maid 
started so sad and pathetic a song, that Tanja suddenly 
felt her heart heavy with that strange, unreasoning 
anguish which so often came over her after moments o 
great high spirits. But in the anguish there was als( 


at the same moment such intense delight that she would 
not have exchanged it for noisy happiness. When 
Tanja got home and went to bed she could not sleep, 
notwithstanding her weariness. As she lay in a feverish 
state between sleeping and waking, a vision of the 
forest kept rising before her. She saw it now far more 
distinctly than in the daytime ; in truth she understood 
better and more clearly its beauty both as a whole and 
in its minutest detail. Various momentary impressions, 
which had only flown past her without her being 
conscious of them, returned with pertinacious vigour. 
Here a huge ant's nest stood out from the background. 
Tanja realised every little straw and leaf so clearly that 
she could almost pick them up. Active ants, drawing 
little white eggs after them, ran swiftly hither and 
thither. Then of a sudden they would all disappear, 
and in their place would be a soft white lump like a 
snowball. Tanja distinguished now that the whole con- 
sisted of fine spiders' webs. In the middle was a little 
black speck. She wanted to pick up the lump in her 
hand, but she had hardly thought of it, when the black 
speck in the middle grew lively and a number of small 
spiders shot out of it like rays from the centre to the 
circumference, and ran busily backward and forward. 
Tanja had really seen such a strange lump in the morn- 
ing, but had hardly noticed it, and now it all came 
back to her so clear and lifelike. 

The weary Tanja tossed about a long time on the 
bed without being able to chase away these reflected 
scenes, till at last she fell into a calm sleep. 



The wood which played so great a part in Tanja's 
childish memories bordered the estate on one side. On 
the other lay the garden, which reached down to the 
lake, and beyond the lake extended fields and meadows. 
Here among the verdure there was a small and miser- 
able village, with a few hovels more like wild-beast 
dens than human dwellings. 

The soil in the Vitebsk government is not nearly 
as fertile as the black earth of Russia and Little Russia. 
The peasants in White Russia are known for their 
poverty. The Emperor Nicholas, when passing through 
the district, rightly called it " White Russia," ** a poor 
beauty," in contradistinction to the Tambojsk govern- 
ment, which he called a rich merchant's wife. From 
the midst of this sparsely peopled tract, the Palibino 
mansion stood out in striking relief, with its mas^ve 
stone walls ; its strange, foreign-looking terraces, in 
summer bordered with climbing roses ; its spacious hot- 
houses and forcing-pits. In sununer time some life and 
movement reigned in the neighbourhood, but in winter 
it seemed all dead and unpeopled. Snow buried all the 
garden paths, and was piled in high drifts even close to 
the house. From the windows one saw nothing but a 
white inanimate plain all round. Hours might pass 
without a living being crossing the high road. Some- 
times one might see a peasant's sledge drawn by a 
thin, white, rime-frosted nag, and then all ag^n was 
dead without a sign of life or movement. 

Wolves came at night close up to the house. 
One winter's evening the Rajevsky family were all 
gathered round the tea-table. In the big drawing-room 


stal chandelier was lit, and the candle flames 

fleeted in the tail mirrors on the walls ; round 

Us stood the rich silk-covered furniture ; and 

le windows stood out the jagged leaves of palms 

her hot-house plants. The tables were strewn 

ooks and foreign newspapers. Tea was finished, 

If children had not yet been sent to bed. The 

il smoked and played patience. Madame Rajev- 

t at the piano, playing a few bars of Beethoven's 

IS or a romance of Schuman's, Anyuta went from 

to room ; in fancy she was far away from her 

undings. She saw herself in a brilliant company, 

ueen of the ball. 

ddenly the valet lija opened the door. He said 
ing, but stood on the threshold, now on one 1^, 
on the other, which was his fashion when he had 
Jung special to narrate. 

What do you want?" shouted the General, 

' Nothing at all, your Excellency," with a meaning 
lie. " I only came to say that a pack of wolves are 
iiering by the lake. Perhaps your honours might 
e to hear how they howl." 
^Jjit this information of course the children get into 
"^ jMid state of excitement, and beg to be allowed to 
jout on the steps. After various opinions had been 
, about their getting chilled, the father gave 
last to their request. The children, 
1 caps, went out, followed by 



and almost took away one's breath. Though there was 
no moonlight, there was the light from the snow and 
from myriads of stars which seemed like great golden 
nails thickly hammered over the sky. Tanja thought 
that she had never seen the stars so clear as on that 
evening. Their rays seemed to melt together, and they 
twinkled so strangely that they seemed to glitter and 
then to get dark again the next instant. 

Wherever one looked, snow, nothing but snow, whole 
masses, mountains high of snow, which covered and 
made everything even. The steps up to the terraces 
could not be seen at all. No one would ever have 
noticed that one part was higher than the other in the 
surrounding garden. There was only a white, smooth 
plain, which passed without any break into the white 
frozen lake. 

But strangest of all was the stillness which reigned 
— deep, undisturbed silence. The children had already 
been some minutes out on the steps, and had heard 
nothing. They began to be impatient. *' Where are 
the wolves ? " they asked. 

" It seems as though they were silent on purpose," 
answered Ilja, annoyed. " But wait a little, they will 
soon begin." 

And at the same moment came a prolonged howl, 
which was immediately answered by another. And 
then there rose by the lake a chorus so strange, so 
melancholy, that one felt one's heart involuntarily 
stand still. 

" There are our boys ! " exclaimed Ilja, delighted. 
"Now they have begun to sing. If one could only 


understand why they are so happy on our lake ! There 
are dozens of them there at night. 

" What do you say to it, Polka ? " he said, turning 
to the big Newfoundland, the pet of the whole house, 
who had followed them out to the steps. ** Do you 
feel inclined to join them, and try the wolves' teeth a 
little ? " 

But the concert had made a painful impression on 
the dog. He who was generally so bold, tucked in 
his tail and nestled up to the children^ and his whole 
appearance expressed the utmost terror. 

The children began to feel a little frightened at the 
strange, wild music. A nervous trembling took hold of 
them, and they turned back to the warm, comfortable 


WHEN the Rajevskys moved to the country and 
took up their residence there, their eldest girl, 
Anyuta, was just growing out of childhood. 

Not long after their removal the Polish revolution 
took place, and as Palibino lay on the very borders 
between Lithuania and Russia, some of the after-heavings 
of the storm made themselves felt there. Most of the 
neighbouring proprietors, and amongst them some of 
the richest and best educated, were Poles. Several of 
them found themselves more or less compromised, some 
had their properties confiscated, and all were called 
upon to pay heavy fines. Many voluntarily gave up 
their lands and went abroad. During the years which 
followed that revolution, there were hardly any young 
people in the district, as they had all moved away. 
Only children and old people were left — innocent, 
frightened beings, who were afr^d of their own shadow 
— together with newly appointed officials, shop people, 
and smaller proprietors. 

It is clear that country life under such circumstances 

could not be very lively for a young girl. Besides, 

Anyuta's education had in no way fitted her for rural 

pursuits. She cared neither for walks nor for mush- 



room expeditions, nor for rowing on the lake. So it 
was natural that she refused suchlike dissipations which 
were constantly suggested by the English governess, 
and the antipathy between her and the governess grew 
so strong that if the one proposed a thing the other 
was sure to negative it. One summer Anyuta, how- 
ever, took a sudden passion for riding, but it was chiefly 
to imitate the heroine in the novel which at the moment 
captivated her fancy. There was, however, no suitable 
companion to accompany her, and she soon found the 
solitary rides, without any other companion than a dull 
groom, very stupi^. Her riding horse, to which she 
had given the romantic name of ** Frida," soon returned 
to its former ignominious business of carrying the 
steward round the property, and was again known by 
its previous name of *' Gray." 

There could be no possibility of Anyuta busying 
herself with housewifely affairs. Any such suggestion 
would have been repulsive to a degree both to her and 
to those around her. Her whole training had tended 
to make her a brilliant woman of the world. From her 
seventh year she had been the queen of the children's 
balls, to which, when her parents were living in a 
large town, she often went. The General was proud 
of her childish precocity, of which many legends remain 
in the family. 

" Only wait till Anyuta is big enough to be presented 
at court ! She will turn the heads of all the grand 
dukes," the General would sometimes say, naturally in 
joke ; but unfortunately not only the younger children 
but Anyuta herself took the words seriously. 


Anyuta was really a beautiful girl, tall and well made, 
and with her fine complexion and her magnificent, 
fair curly hair might well be almost called a beauty. 
And she had, besides, most enchanting manners. She 
knew well that she could play the first and leading role 
in any society she chose — and to be stuck down in a 
desert in solitude and loneliness ! 

Every now and ag^n she used to go to her fatler, 
and, with tears in her eyes, would reproach him wth 
keeping her in the country. The General answered ler 
complaint at first with jokes ; but sometimes he tned 
to expldn to her and show her very logically how tiat, 
in those days, the proprietor's duty was to live on lis 
property. If he left it to the wind and waves, he 
would bring ruin on his family. Anyuta knew lot 
what to answer to this reasoning, but she knew oily 
that it did not make it any the easier for her. 9ie 
knew she would never get back her youth, which vas 
thus being wasted. After such a conversation she woUd 
generally shut herself up in her room and weep. 

But the General usually sent his wife and daughter k) 
stay with the aunts in St. Petersburg for a month or 
six weeks every winter. But this somewhat expensive 
arrangement was hardly any good. It only nourished 
in Anyuta a love of pleasure without satisfying it. The 
month in St. Petersburg passed so quickly that she 
hardly realised it. She was not likely to meet in the 
circles into which she went anything that could give her 
thoughts a serious direction. No suitable lover pre- 
sented himself. She got some new dresses, went a few 
times to the theatre or to a ball at the nobles* club ; 


sometimes a relative would give a party in her honour, 
for people were very kind to her on account of her 
beauty ; and then, just as she was beginning to taste the 
pleasures of all this, they had suddenly to come back 
to Palibino again, to the solitary, idle, dull life in the 
great mansion, where she had no other dissipation than 
wandering from room to room, living in thought again 
the past joys, and gloating passionately over un- 
productive dreams of new triumphs on the same 

In order to make up for the dulness of her life, Anyuta 
ivas for ever hitting upon now one, now another, and yet 
mother artificial fancy ; and as the inner life of each 
nember of the household was in want of the same 
mlivenment, they all took a lively interest in any new 
dea of hers which gave them an opportunity for con- 
versation and discussion. Some laughed at her, some 
jympathised with her, but for all she made a pleasant 
nterruption in the ordinary monotonous life. 

But Tanja was the one above all to whom everything 
:hat concerned or aiFected Anyuta was most deeply 
nteresting. The feeling which from her earliest years 
ihe entertained for her older sister was of a very mixed 
cind. Her admiration of Anyuta was boundless. She 
obeyed Anyuta implicitly, and felt herself deeply flattered 
f her eldest sister honoured her by communicating any- 
hing to her in which she herself was interested. Tanja 
vould have gone through fire for her sister ; but, not- 
vithstanding this enthusiastic devotion, she felt towards 
ler that peculiar kind of grudge which we secretly, 
ilmost unconsciously, nourish for those who stand 


nearest to us, and whom we wish to resemble in every 

The first act by which Anyuta, when she was hardly 
fifteen, proclaimed her independence, was by taking 
possession of all the novels in the Palibino library and 
devouring an inconceivable number of them. There 
were, of course, no " immoral " books in the house, but 
there was no lack of bad, stupid books. The library 
was specially rich in old English romances, mostly 
historical, the scenes of which were laid in the Middle 
Ages and in the days of chivalry. To Anyuta these 
novels were a veritable discovery ; they opened to her a 
wonderful and, till then, unknown world, and gave a 
new character to her fancies. It happened to her as it 
had happened to poor Don Quixote centuries before. 
She believed in those knightly days, and imagined her- 
self a mediaeval chatelaine. 

Unfortunately the great massive mansion, with its 
tower and Gothic windows, was built somewhat in the 
fashion of a mediaeval castle. In her " cavalier " period, 
Anyuta never wrote a letter without heading it " Chateau 
Palibino." Anyuta had all the dust and cobwebs cleared 
out of the highest room of the tower, which was unused 
because it could only be reached by a steep and difficult 
stdrcase. She hung it with old tapestries and weapons 
which she found in some corner of the garret, and 
turned it into her sitting-room. Her graceful, well- 
made figure in a close-fitting robe of white stuflF, and 
her two long plaits of fjdr hair reaching to her wsust, 
made her quite a suitable model for a mediaeval beauty. 
So she would sit leaning over her frame, embroidering 


the Rajevsky family arms in gold and beads, while she 
looked out of the window over the landscape awdting 
the coming knight. 

" Sister Anne, sister Anne ! Do you see no one 
coming ? '* 

" I see but the dust blowing and the flowers growing." 

Instead of the expected knight, she saw, perhaps, only 
the policeman, or an old Jew who dealt with the General 
in oxen and brandy. Knight there never was one — 
and the unhappy sister Anne wearied in waiting for 
him, till the " knightly " whim passed as suddenly as it 
had begun. 

She had already half unconsciously begun to be weary 
of knightly tales, when all of a sudden one day she laid 
hands upon an intensely exciting book, " Harold," by an 
English author. The contents are as follows : After the 
Battle of Hastings, Edith " Swan-Necked " finds among 
the dead, the body of her lover, King Harold. Shortly 
before the defeat he had been guilty of a breach of vows, 
wluch was a mortal sin, and he died without confessing. 
His soul was therefore doomed to everlasting torment. 

From that day Edith vanished from her parental 
home, and none even of her nearest relatives ever saw 
her again. Many years passed, and the very memory 
of Edith was by degrees blotted out. 

On the opposite coast of England lay, amid wild 
woods and mountains, a convent, known for its severe 
rule. There had lived there for many years a nun who 
had taken upon her an irrevocable vow of silence, and 
who was revered by the whole convent for her pious 
conduct. She gave herself no rest, night or day. Early 


in the morning and even until midnight her kneeling 
figure prostrated itself before the Christ in the convent 
chapel. But whenever there was a duty to be done, 
help to be given, sufiering to be lightened, she was the 
first to perform it. There was no deathbed in the 
whole neighbourhood over which the figure of the 
pale nun did not bend, and no brow damp with death 
from which she did not kiss the cold dews with those 
bloodless lips, sealed in everlasting silence. 

But none knew who she was nor whence she came. 
Twenty years previously there had knocked at the 
cloister door a woman swathed in a black mantle, and 
after a long and secret conversation with the abbess she 
remained there for ever. That abbess had long been 
dead, and the pale nun continued to move about like a 
shadow, but no one living in the convent had ever heard 
a sound from her lips. 

The younger nuns and the poor of the neighbour- 
hood worshipped her as a saint. Mothers brought 
their sick children to her that she might lay her hands 
upon them, in the hope that they should be cur«d 
merely by her touch. But there were some folk who 
considered that in her youth she must have committed 
some very great sin, as she sought by such severe self- 
punishment and penitence to atone for the past. 

At last, after many years of self-sacrificing labour, 
she drew near her last hour. All the nuns, old and 
young, thronged round her deathbed ; even the abbess, 
who long since had lost the use of her limbs, was carried 
to her cell. 

The priest entered. With the authority bestowed 


upon him by Christ he loosed the dying woman from 
her vow of silence, and exhorted her to say at last who 
she was, and what sin or crime it was that weighed so 
heavily on her conscience. 

The dying nun raised herself wearily in bed. Her 
bloodless lips were almost powerless after the long 
silence — she had lost the use of human speech. For 
some moments her face moved convulsively and 
mechanically without sound. At last, obedient to 
the holy father's command, the nun began to sp«ak ; 
but her voice, which had been silent for twenty years, 
sounded feeble and unnatural. 

"I am Edith," she stammered forth. "I am the 
dead King Harold's bride." 

At the sound of that name, which was accursed to all 
the true servants of the Church, the nuns crossed them- 
selves in horror. But the priest said : " My daughter, 
he whom you loved on earth was a great sinner. King 
Harold lies under the ban of the holy Mother Church, 
and can never win forgiveness. He burns for ever in 
hell fire. But God has seen thy many sorrows. He has 
treasured of a surety thy many tears. Go in peace. In 
paradise awaits thee another and eternal Bridegroom." 

The dying woman's sunken wax-like cheeks glowed 
with sudden crimson. In her eyes, from which it 
seemed as though time had quenched the light, flashed 
a passionate, feverish glow. 

"What is paradise to me without Harold.^" she 
exclaimed, to the horror of the nuns present. "If 
Harold has not won forgiveness, may God not call me 
to His kingdom." 


The nuns stood silent, struck dumb with horror; 
but with a supernatural efFort Edith rdsed herself from 
her pallet and threw herself down before the crucifix. 

" Almighty God," she cried, in her broken and hardly 
human voice, "for some short moments of suffering 
which Thy Son bore Thou didst pardon man's sin. 
But for twenty years I have died daily, hourly, a long 
and cruel death. Thou knowest, for Thou hast seen 
my sufferings. If through them I have won Thy 
favour, pardon Thou my Harold. Give me a sign 
before I die ! Whilst we say * Our Father,* let the 
light before the crucifix kindle of itself. Then shall I 
know that my Harold has found mercy.** 

The priest read " Our Father,** slowly and solemnly 
pronouncing every word. The nuns, both young and 
old, repeated after him the holy words. There was 
not one who did not thrill with pity for the unlucky 
Edith, none who would not have given their lives ^to 
save Harold's soul. 

Edith lay outstretched on the floor. Her body was 
convulsed with the last throes of coming death. All 
the life she had was concentrated in her eyes, which 
stared immovably at the cross. 

The light kindled not. 

The priest read the prayers to the end. "Amen,** 
he said, in a troubled tone. 

The miracle had not taken place. Harold was not 

From the lips of the pious Edith came a curse, and 
her eyes closed for ever. 


It was this romance which brought about a crisis in 
Anyuta*s life. For the first time in her existence she 
asked herself the question, " Is there a life after this ? 
Is death the end of all ? Can two beloved ones meet 
in another world and know each other again ? '* 

With the unrestrained eagerness which marked all 
that Anyuta did, she took up this question as though 
she was the first who had ever asked it ; and it seemed 
to her so terribly serious that she could not live unless 
she knew the answer. This crisis in Anyuta's view of 
life affected even her younger sister. 

It was a lovely summer evening. The sim was 
setting, the heat had gone with it, and the air was 
indescribably soft and pleasant. Through the open 
windows floated the smell of roses and newly-cut hay. 
From the farmyard came the lowing of the cows, the 
bleating of sheep, and the watchman's call, and all the 
other noises of a summer evening in the country, but 
so softened and mellowed in sound by distance that 
their tone seemed only to increase the beauty of the 
silence and peace. The ten-year-old Tanja felt speci- 
ally glad and peaceful. She had for a moment escaped 
from her governess's watchful care, and flew up like an 
arrow to the tower room to see what her sister was 
doing. And what did she see.^ 

Anyuta lay on the sofa, with her unbound hair gilded 
with the sun's last rays, and wept and sobbed heavily — 
sobbed as though her heart would break. 

Tanja was horrified, and rushed up to her. " Darling 
Anyuta, what is the matter?" But she answered 
nothing, only signed with her hand to Tanja to go 


away and leave her in peace. But Tanja naturally 
became only the more curious. It was a long time 
before Anyuta answered, but at last she got up and 
said, in a voice which seemed to Tanja almost broken : 

" You would not understand me. I am not grieving 
over myself, but over mankind. You are only a child, 
and cannot understand serious things. I too was once 
like that, but this wonderful, this terrible book " — she 
showed Tanja the English romance — " has forced me to 
look deeper into life's riddles, and now I understand 
how empty and vain is all we strive after. The most 
brilliant happiness, the truest love, all end in death. 
And what awaits us, or if aught awaits us, we know 
not and shall never know. Oh, it is awful, awful ! " 

She broke out crying again, and buried her head in 
the sofa cushion. 

This genuine despair in a girl of sixteen who is first 
led to thoughts of death by reading a high-wrought 
English novel, the pathetic words and phrases taken 
from the book and addressed to her ten-year-old sister, 
all this may make a grown-up person smile. But 
Tanja was truly half dead with fear, and felt the 
greatest respect for the serious and profound thoughts 
which occupied her sister. All the beauty of the 
summer evening faded at once for her, and she felt 
ashamed of the groundless gladness which had filled her 
heart a moment before. 

" But you always know there is a God, and that after 
death we go to Him," she tried to answer. But her 
sister looked on her tenderly, as an old and experienced 
person looks at a child. 


• "Yes, you are still in possession of your simple 
child-faith. Let us speak no more of this," she said, 
in a sad tone, but at the same time with such an expres- 
sion of conscious superiority over her sister that that 
little one felt ashamed of her own words. 

Anyuta moved amongst the family during the 
following days as one in gentle sorrow. Her whole 
attitude proclaimed that she was cut loose from joys 
of earth. All about seemed to say, " Memento mori." 
Knights and fair dames and lovers' trysts were for- 
gotten. What was the good of loving, wishing, hoping 
for anything when death made an end of all. She read 
no more English novels ; they had all become un- 
attractive to her. Instead she read eagerly "The 
Imitation of Christ," and decided, like Thomas a 
Kempis, through self-renunciation and mortification 
to stem the awakening doubts in her own mind. 

With the servants she was extremely gentle and con- 
siderate. If Tanja or Fedja asked her to do anything, 
she no longer snubbed them as had often been the 
case, but granted instantly what they asked, yet with 
such an air of heartbroken resignation that Tanja felt 
her heart sink even in the midst of all her happiness. 

All the house entertained a great respect for 
Anyuta's pious mood, and dealt with her as gently and 
tenderly as if she had been sick or had had some great 
sorrow. Only the governess shrugged her shoulders 
disbelievingly, and her father joked at dinner about her 
sad countenance. "Son air tenebreux." But Anyuta 
took patiently her father's jest, and met the governess 
with an unexpected aiFability which provoked the latter 



more than her former impertinence. When Tanja saw 
her sister thus, she could no longer be glad over 
anything without being ashamed that she could 
not feel sad herself, and was in secret envious of 
Anyuta, who had such strong, deep emotions. But 
this mood did not last long. The 15 th of September 
was near — Madame Rajevsky's name's-day, which was 
always kept with great rejoicing. All the neighbours 
round for fifty versts came to Palibino, so that about 
a hundred persons assembled there, and something 
particular was always arranged for that day — fire- 
works, tableaux, or acting. The preparations of course 
began some while before. Madame Rajevsky herself 
loved theatricals, and acted with much spirit and 
talent. A small theatre had just been built at Palibino, 
with drop-scene and scenery all complete. In the 
neighbourhood there were some well-known theatre- 
goers, who could all be turned into actors. Madame 
Rajevsky would willingly have taken part in the acting, 
but now, when she had a grown-up daughter, she 
thought she could not with a good conscience have the 
same deep interest in it for her own sake. She now 
wanted to arrange it to give Anyuta pleasure. But at 
that moment Anyuta had with much diligence worked 
herself into the convent humour ! Madame Rajevsky 
began carefully and quietly to work upon her daughter, 
so as to attract her mind by degrees to this fete day, 
Anyuta did not give in without evincing the greatest 
contempt for the whole matter. It was such a lot of 
trouble, and of what use was it ? But at last she con- 
sented, with a virtuous semblance of not wishing to 


disappoint the others. When the players had been 
gathered together it was necessary to choose a piece 
which should be acted. This is, as is well known, no 
easy thing — it must both be amusing, not too broad, and 
must not require too much property. At last they chose 
the French vaudeville, Les CEufs de Perette. Anyuta 
took a part for the first time as a grown-up lady in 
acting, and naturally took a leading part. Rehearsals 
began, and she displayed an unusual talent for acting. 
In a single day her fear of death, her struggle between 
faith and doubt and the fear of the mysterious " here- 
after," were at an end. From morning to evening her 
clear voice sounded through the house singing French 

After Madame Rajevsky's name's-day Anyuta wept 
again, but from quite a diifferent cause. She wept 
because her father would not consent to her eager 
entreaties to send her to a theatrical school. She 
thought now that her calling in life was to be a play 


IN the days in which Anyuta Rajevsky dreamed oi 
of knights and shed bitter tears over Harold a 
Edith's sad fate, nearly all the intelligent youth in 1 
rest of Russia was inspired by quite a different spi 
and had quite another ideal. Anyuta's fantastic d 
dreaming may therefore seem like an anachronism. 

But the remote region where the Rajevskys li^ 
lay far removed from all centres of thought, a 
Palibino was so shielded from the outer world that l 
waves of new ideas never reached this peaceful hav 
until long after they had arisen on the open sea. B 
when they did once invade its shore, they at ot 
caught Anyuta and swept her along with them. He 
when, and whence these new ideas came into t 
Rajevskys* household, it would be hard to say. It 
a known fact that each transition period is marked 
some peculiarity which leaves but few traces behind 
A paleontologist, for example, will study the cr< 
section of a geological strata, and will find thereii 
sharply defined flora or fauna. He will be able 
build up in his imagination, from such indications 
picture of the world as it then appeared. If 

examines critically the overlying strata, he may fi 



quite other formations, quite other types, but how they 
came or how they were developed from the former he 
cannot always tell. Fossil remains of fully developed 
types fill museums to overflowing, but a paleontologist 
is overjoyed if he can by chance dig up, at any time, a 
skull or a few teeth, or a bit of bone belonging to 
an intermediate type, which may enable him to deter- 
mine the way in which this development was eflTected. 
It is almost as though nature herself eagerly destroyed 
and blotted out all trace of her work ; as though she 
would glory in the perfect work of creation in which 
she succeeds in giving life and form to the fully 
developed thought, but at the same time unrelentingly 
sweeps away all memories of her first and faulty 

It was a calm and peaceful life which the Rajev- 
skys lived. The members grew up and aged, quarrelled 
and made up, disputed, to pass the time, on this or 
that magazine article, this or that scientific discovery, 
but were at the same time fully persuaded that all 
these questions belonged to the strange distant world, 
and never could have any active bearing on their 
even, everyday life ; and so, suddenly, before they knew 
where they were, there arose beneath their eyes a 
marvellous ferment, which came ever nearer, and 
threatened to undermine the calm and patriarchal 
existence ; a danger which came not only fi-om one side, 
but one which seemed to encircle them. 

It may be said that at this period, from early in the 
sixties to early in the seventies, all intelligent classes of 
Russian society were engrossed in one absorbing con- 


flict, family dissensions between parents and chil 
There was hardly an aristocratic family in which 
was not some such quarrel. The misunderstan 
arose not over any actual practical matters, but 
mere theoretical and abstract questions. "' 
opinions differed." It was only that, but that 
was enough to make children leave their parent! 
parents turn off" their children. 

At that time there was a. sort of epidemic of y 
girls leaving their parental home. In the imme 
neighbourhood of Palibino all was (thank Heaven 
it should be ; but from every other direction, first 
one femily and then from another, came the nev 
daughters who had left home — some bent on stui 
foreign lands, and others joining the Nihilists ii 

What shocked the neighbours, parents, and tea^ 
in the neighbourhood of Palibino was a certain 
terious commune which it was said had been foi 
in St. Petersburg. This was, ran the story, recr 
from all the young girls who wished to leave h 
Young people of both sexes, it was said, lived the 
the full rights of communism. Servants were 
permitted ; so ladies of quality had, with their 
hands, to scrub floors and dishes. It is, of course, ui 
stood that no one who spread the rumour had 
been in the same commune. Where it was locate 
how it could exist in St. Petersburg under the no 
the police, that no one knew ; but there was n( 
who harboured the least doubt of its existence. 

In a short while signs of the times b^an to \ 


themselves in the Rajevskys' immediate neighbourhood. 
The village priest. Father Fillip, had a son who formerly 
delighted his father's heart with his obedience and 
steadiness. But just as he finished his course at the 
seminarium with almost the highest certificates, this 
peaceful youth changed suddenly into a wilfiil son, and 
refused sharp and short to become a priest, though he 
only needed to reach out his hand to receive a com- 
fortable living. His Worship the Bishop ordered 
him before him, and exhorted him not to leave the 
shelter of the Church. He let him plainly understand, 
moreover, that it rested only with himself to become a 
parish priest in the village of Ivanovo (the richest in 
the government). He certainly had as a preliminary 
to marry the former priest's daughter. Such was the 
ancient custom that the living descended as a sort of 
portion to one of the former incumbent's daughters. 
But even this alluring prospect did not prove tempting 
to the priest's young son. He preferred going to St. 
Petersburg, entering his name as a student, and main- 
taining himself there at his own cost, which came to 
much the same thing as starvation. 

Poor Father Fillip lamented terribly over his son's 
folly. Had the lad even taken up jurisprudence, 
which is esteemed as the most advantageous career, 
the old man could have borne it. But his son had 
instead taken up natural science, and came back for 
his first vacation choke full of all sorts of nonsense, 
pretending, for instance, that men. are descended from 
apes, and that Professor Setenchof had proved there 
was no such thing as a soul except as a reflex 


motion ; so that at last the father, in horror, had t< 
seize the holy water chalice and sprinkle him with holj 

When the young man had in former years come bad 
to his father's home from the seminarium during th( 
holidays, he had never neglected any of the Rajevskj 
family feasts, or to pay his respects ; and later when h< 
joined the feast he had, as became a young man o 
his position, sat at the further end of the table anc 
quietly enjoyed the name's-day cake without joining ir 
the conversation. But this summer it happened other- 
wise. On the first name's-day which took place aftei 
the young man's arrival, he chose to absent himself 
and to make matters worse, he arrived on an ordinary 
day, and when the servant asked him what he wanted 
he answered quite simply that he had come to pay tb 
General a visit. 

General Rajevsky had already heard many thing 
about the young Nihilist, and though he had noticec 
his absence from the name's-day feast, he had not, o: 
course, troubled himself about such an insignifican 
circumstance. Now, however, he was excessivel] 
angry that the impudent young man should ventun 
to pay him a visit like an equal, for the priesthood ir 
Russia forms almost a caste by itself, which is con- 
sidered to stand somewhat low in the social scale anc 
is always somewhat despised. The General determinec 
to give him a good lesson. He therefore told th( 
servants to inform him that the General only inter- 
viewed petitioners or people who came on business ir 
the forenoon, or before one o'clock. 


The honest Ilja, who always understood with half 
an eye what concerned his master, delivered the 
message just in the spirit it was given him. But the 
young man gave no sign, only just as he was going 
away he said calmly, *' Tell your master, with my 
compliments, that I will never agdn set foot inside his 
house ! " 

Ilja delivered this message also, and one can easily 
imagine what a sensation such an answer from an 
underling made, not merely in the Rajevsky family, but 
in the whole neighbourhood. But the most astounding 
thing of all was that when Anyuta heard what had 
happened, she rushed into her father's room, with her 
cheeks burning and flaming with passion, and exclaimed, 
" Why on earth have you insulted Alexi Fillippovitch, 
father ? It was very wrong of you ; it is an ignoble 
way of treating a worthy and honourable man." The 
General stared at his daughter with wide-open eyes. 
His astonishment was so great that he forgot for the 
first moment how to answer her insolence. After the 
first moment Anyuta's fiery courage sank, and she 
hastened to the shelter of her own room. 

When the General recovered from his astonishment, 
he decided that it was better not to give his daughter's 
behaviour any importance, and to treat it with ridicule. 
At dinner he began to relate a story of an emperor's 
daughter who took into her head to intercede for a 
stable-boy. He certainly drew the princess and her 
protege in the most ridiculous light. He was a master 
of ridicule, and all the children were afraid of his talent. 
But on that day Anyuta listened to her father's tale 


calm and unmoved, but at the same time with an angrj 
and defiant air. 

In order to emphasise her protest against the insuli 
which the young man had received, she began to tak< 
every opportunity of meeting him either at the neigh 
hours' or in her walks. 

Stephen, the coachman, narrated once at supper ir 
the servants' room how, with his own eyes, he had seer 
Miss Anyuta walking tite-d-tite with the priest's son ir 
the wood. It was so funny to see them. Miss Anyut? 
walked silently along, with her eyes on the ground, swing- 
ing her parasol backwards and forwards, and he clost 
beside her with his long sticks of legs, just like z 
crane ! And the whole time he was talking and 
fencing with his hands. And then he pulled out a 
crumpled old book and began reading out of that tc 
her, just as if he were giving a lesson. 

It must be owned that the priest's young son was 
little like the legendary prince or the mediseval knight 
whom Anyuta had formerly dreamt of. His long, 
shapeless, awkward figure, thin, sinewy neck and 
colourless face, surrounded by coarse yellow-red hair, 
his large red hands, and his coarse and not always 
blamelessly clean nails, all this could hardly have con- 
duced to make him a very fascinating hero to a young 
girl of aristocratic manners and inclinations. And, 
indeed, no one could for a moment imagine that 
Anyuta's interest in him had anything romantic about 
it. There was evidently something lying below the 
surface. And this was exactly what it was. The 
young man's chief attraction for Anyuta was that he 


had come straight from St. Petersburg, and had there 
participated in all the newest ideas. Moreover, he had 
even had the happiness of seeing with his own eyes, 
though certainly only at a distance, so many of the 
great men to whom the youth of that period looked 
up with admiration and respect, Tschernyschefshefski, 
Dobroljudof, Sljeptsef. This was quite sufficient to 
make him himself interesting and captivating. Anyuta 
had, into the bargain, to thank him for many books 
which she could never otherwise have procured. The 
Rajevskys only got the most solid and respectable 
periodicals of the time — Revue des Deux Mondes and 
the Athenaum from abroad, and Russki yjdstnik from 
Russia. As a great concession to the feeling of the time, 
the General had that year also subscribed for Epochdy 
Dostojevsky's journal. But now, ithrough this young 
man, Anyuta could be supplied with literature of quite 
a different kind — Savremennik ("Our Age") and 
Russkoje Slovo ("Russia's Word"), journals of which 
every fresh number brought to light some new move- 
ment among the young. Once he procured her even a 
number of Herz's forbidden weekly paper, Kolokol 
(" Bells "). 

It would be unjust to say that Anyuta at once and 
without criticising them accepted the new ideas which 
her nihilistic friend preached to her. Many of them 
disturbed her, and seemed to her altogether crude, and 
she could dispute right well about them. But under 
the influence of conversations with him, and reading 
the books he procured her, she developed quickly, and 
went fiirther and fiirther, not only every day, but every 


hour. Towards autumn the young student was < 

such bad terms with his father that he was told 

take himself off and not to come again next holida] 

But the seed he had sown in Anyuta's mind continu 

to grow and flourish. 

; She changed even in outward appearance— dress 

[ herself in simple black clothes with smooth whi 

; collar, and combed back her hair into a net. She nc 

; despised all talk of balls and parties. In the fbrena 

; she let the servant's children come to her and s 

* taught them to read, and when she met an old worn 

on the road she stood and talked to her long and kind] 
But what was most remarkable of all, Anyuta, wl 
formerly abhorred study of every kind, was now seiz 
with a perfect passion for studying. Instead of spcn 
ing her money on rubbish and finery, she now order 
whole boxes full of books, and those not novels, b 
books with learned titles, such as ** Human Physiolog) 
** History of Civilisation," &c. 

One day, she went in to her father and burst for 
with a most unexpected proposition — that he shou 
let her journey alone to St. Petersburg to study. Tl 
General tried to turn her request into ridicule, as : 
former times when Anyuta had announced herself ui 
willing to live any longer in the country. But th 
time she would not let herself be overawed. Neithi 
her father's joke nor his ridicule moved her. SI 
maintained with extraordinary warmth that because h( 
father found it necessary to live on his estate, that wj 
no reason why she should remain chained to the countr 
where she found neither occupation nor pleasure. 


The General at last got angry and scolded her like 
a little child. " If you can't understand for yourself 
why it is the proper duty of every nice girl to stay 
at home with her parents till she is married, I don't 
intend to waste more of my time disputing with such 
a fool." 

Anyuta saw it was no good to resist. But from that 
hour the relations between her and her father were 
greatly strained, and they felt for each other a bitter- 
ness which increased daily. At dinner, the only time 
of day when they met, they hardly ever spoke to each 
other direct ; but in every word they spoke there was 
some pin-prick or wounding remark. 

There was now a general and hitherto unknown 
division in the Rajevsky family. There had, it is true, 
never been many matters of common interest. Every 
one lived each for their own interest. Now all ranged 
themselves into two hostile camps. 

The governess had from the first shown her hatred of 
the new ideas. She christened Anyuta the Nihilist, and 
the " advanced young woman," which latter nickname 
had a specially venomous sound from her lips. She 
instinctively understood that Anyuta had something in 
view. At first she suspected her of some criminal 
project — a secret flight fi-om her home, a marriage with 
the priest's son, or joining the celebrated " Commune." 
She therefore took upon herself to spy out her doings. 
And Anyuta, who felt that the governess suspected her, 
enveloped herself studiously and, on purpose to irritate 
her, in an attitude of offended and injured reserve. 

Only Madame Rajevsky seemed to notice nothing of 


what was going on round her, but went on, as usual, 
trying to reconcile and smooth down every one. 

It was not long before the spirit of strife which 
reigned at Palibino infected the thirteen-year-old 
T^nja. The governess had always striven to circum- 
scribe her intercourse with Anyuta. But now she 
sought strenuously to shelter her pupil from the 
'* Nihilist " as from a plague. As much as she could 
she prevented the sisters being alone together, and 
looked upon every attempt of Tanja's to leave the 
schoolroom and to go up to the grown-up's as a crime. 

Her governess's espionage angered Tanja greatly. 
She had a feeling that Anyuta was aspiring to some- 
thing new, something wonderfully interesting ; and she 
wanted terribly to know what it was all about. Almost 
every time she came upon Anyuta unexpectedly she 
was sitting at her writing-table busily writing. Tanja 
tried to make her tell her what she was doing. But 
Anyuta had already been lectured by the governess for 
not being content with turning herself from the right 
path, but trying to allure thence her little sister. So 
she always drove Tanja away for fear of new com- 
plaints. ** Now be good and run off. Malvina is sure 
to come and surprise us together, and then there's a 
fuss, as you know." 

Tanja went back to the schoolroom angry with the 
governess, whose fault it was that her sister would have 
nothing to say to her. It became harder and harder for 
the governess to manage her pupil. From the con- 
versation which took place at the dinner-table, Tanja 
principally gathered that it was no longer the fashion to 


obey one's elders, and gradually the feeling of submis- 
sion was weakened in her. There were almost daily 
altercations with her governess ; and at last, after a 
more than ordinarily stormy scene, Malvina decided 
she could no longer remain with the Rajevskys. 

As there had already been several threats of the kind, 
Tanja did not at first think anything much of it. But 
this time it was evident that it was serious. On her 
side, the governess had already gone so far with threats 
that she could not in honour withdraw. Tanja's 
parents were so irritated with the constant altercations, 
that they did not try to keep the Englishwoman, and 
hoped there would be peace in the house when she was 
gone. But not till the last moment of the very last 
day came, did Tanja believe that the governess would 
really go. 


THE old-fashioned portmanteau in its tidy linen 
cover, tied up with ropes, had stood all the 
morning in the lobby. On the top of it was piled a 
whole battery of carton boxes, baskets, bags and 
bundles, all the packages without which no old maid 
can ever travel. In front of the steps waited the 
tarantass, the harness of which was of the most 
primitive and inferior kind.. The coachman, Jacob, 
always took it out when there was a long journey in 
prospect. The maid-servants ran about, busily carrying 
and stowing all the small parcels ; while the valet, Ilja, 
stood motionless, leaning idly against the door-post 
with the most contemptuous expression, which seemed 
to say that the journey in question was nothing so 
important to make such a fuss about. The whole 
family were assembled in the dining-room. As usual 
when any farewell was taking place, the General invited 
them all to be seated before the leave-taking. The 
family seated themselves in the place of honour in the 
furthest corner, and a little way off the group of 
servants, out of respect to their master, seated them- 
selves on the very edge of the chairs. A few minutes 
passed in respectful silence, for every one felt involun- 



:arily more or less afFected by the nervous anxiety 
yhich accompanies all farewells. But when the General 
jave the sign to rise, crossed himself in front of the 
lacred picture, the others followed his example, and 
hen came the usual embraces and tears. 

Tanja gazed at her governess, who, in her black 
ravelling dress, wrapped up in a thick warm shawl, 
lU at once seemed quite different to what she usually 
coked. Malvina Jakovlevna seemed all of a sudden 
o have become old ; her firm, strong figure seemed to 
lave shrunk and contracted ; her eyes (the two thunder- 
)olts, as the children were accustomed naughtily to call 
hem in secret), those eyes which had never let a fault 
)f Tanja's escape her, were red and swollen and tearful. 
The corners of the mouth were tremulous with nervous 
amotion. For the first time in her life, Tanja felt 
juilty towards her. The governess folded her pupil 
n a long, convulsive embrace, and kissed her with an 
ixtreme tenderness which Tanja had never expected. 
* Don't forget me ; write soon. It is not easy to part 
vith a light heart from a child one has educated from 
even years old," she sobbed. 

Tanja also clasped her tightly, and broke into 
lespairing tears. A panful sorrow seized her ; a 
eeling of irreparable loss, as though, with the 
foverness's departure, the whole family must split 
ip ; and she was, moreover, conscious that she was 
lerself to blame. With a painful sense of shame she 
ecalled how, during the last few days — even that very 
norning — she had in secret been jubilant at the thought 
>f the departure of the severe governess, and her own 
pproaching liberty. 



" It serves me right," she said ; " now she b 
in earnest, and we must stay behind here all by c 
selves," and the next moment she was so misen 
at being without Malvina Jakovlevna, that she wc 
have done anything to keep her. She clutched I 
of her as if she could not let her go. 

" It is time to be off" said some one, " if you w 
to get to the town by daylight." Everything 
ready in the carriage, and the governess got 
Another long embrace. " Take care, Miss, you d< 
get under the horse's feet," some one called out 
Tanja, and off went the carriage. 

Tanja rushed upstars into a comer room, fi 
whence she could see the long birch avenue wl 
led from the house to the highway. She pressed 
face agsunst the window-pane, and could not tear 1 
self away as long as the carriage was in sight. 1 
feeling of guilt got stronger and stronger in her. ( 
God ! what a bitter moment for her it was iri 
governess left ! All their squabbles (and they 1 
of late been innumerable) stood in quite a new lij 

" She loved me : she would have stayed if she 1 
only known how much I loved her ! Now there is 
one who cares for me," she thought in her remorse, i 
her sobs grew louder and louder. 

" Are you making all those wry faces over Malvina 
asked her brother Fedja, who was passing, in a tone 
malicious astonishment. 

" Let her be, Fedja. It does her credit that she ' 
so fond of h?r," heard Tanja behind her, in the vcmk 


an old aunt whom none of the children could bear 
because they thought her false. Her brother's sneer 
and her aunt's praise, bitter-sweet as it was, annoyed 
Tanja and chilled her. She never could, from her 
earliest days, bear to be comforted in any trouble by 
some one to whom she was indifferent. So she shrank 
away from her aunt's hand which lay caressingly on 
her shoulder, and murmured, " I am neither sorry nor 
affectionate," and so saying, she ran off. 

The sight of the empty schoolroom nearly renewed 
Tanja's paroxysm of grief, and the only thought which 
at all comforted her was the feeling that now she might 
be with her sister as much as she wished, and she made 
up her mind to go to her at once. 

Anyuta was walking up and down the big drawing- 
room, as was her custom when anything troubled her. 
She looked most preoccupied : her blue-green eyes were 
intensely brilliant, but took in nothing of what was 
passing around her. She herself did not know that her 
step kept time to her thoughts. If she was in a 
sorrowful mood, her step was heavy and slow ; if her 
mind was occupied by pleasant thoughts, she went 
quicker and quicker, till she began to run. Every one 
in the house recognised this, and often joked her about 
it. Tanja had often noticed her sister while she walked, 
and wondered what she was thinking about. 

Tanja knew by experience it was labour lost to try 
to get a word out of Anyuta under such circumstances ; 
but when she saw her walking as if she would never 
stop, she lost patience, and began to talk to her. 

" Anyuta, I am so sad — lend me one of your books 


to read/* she said, in a beseeching tone. But Anyi 
went on without seeming to hear her. All was sili 
agdn for awhile. 

" Anyuta, what are you thinking about ? " Tanja 
last ventured to exclaim. "Oh, do stop — ^there's 

" You are too small still for me to talk to you ab< 
it," she said, contemptuously. 

But Tanja really felt at last seriously hurt. " la 
really true .^ Will you never talk to me ? Now t 
Malvina is really gone, I thought we should be si 
good friends, you and I, and there you go and send 
off ! Well, then, I shall go my own way ; but I si 
never care for you again — not one little, little bit ! " 

With sobs in her throat, Tanja jumped up to i 
away, when her sister called her back. Truth to t 
Anyuta was burning to confide to some one what i 
taking up so much of her thoughts ; and in default 
any one better, as there was no one in the house 
whom she could speak, she was obliged to put up w 
her thirteen-year-old sister. 

"Listen," she sdd; "if you promise never, nev 
under any circumstances whatsoever, to tell any one 
will tell you a great secret." 

Tanja's tears dried instantly, and her wrath vanish( 
She naturally protested that she would be as silent as 1 
walls, and waited impatiently for what Anyuta was 
tell her. 

" Come with ipe to my room," said the elder sist 
solemnly. " I will show you something — somethi 
you never suspected." 


And ofF she led Tanja to her room, and up to the 
ancient writing-desk in which Tanja knew she kept 
all her most important secrets. Slowly and very 
pompously, in order to excite Tanja's curiosity to the 
utmost, she drew out one of the drawers and took out 
of it a big envelope with a business-like look and a red 
seal with the words — "The Epoch Journal." The 
envelope was addressed to Mademoiselle Nikitischna 
Kusymin." This was the Rajevskys' housekeeper, 
who was blindly devoted to Anyuta, and would have 
gone through fire and water for her. From the cover 
Anyuta took a small envelope on which was written, 
" To be forwarded to Miss Anna Ivanovna Rajevsky," 
and finally she handed to Tanja a letter, written in a 
bold, manly hand. 

** Honoured Anna Ivanovna," read Tanja, " your 
very kind letter and your marked confidence in me 
interested me so much that I instantly took up your 
story, with the following result. 

" I own that it was not without secret trepidations 
that I began to read. We journalists have so often the 
sad duty of awakening from their hopefiil illusions 
young beginners who send their first literary efforts for 
our judgment. On this occasion such a duty would 
have been very painful to me. But after I read, my 
fears lightened, and I was more and more captivated 
by the youthful directness, the honest, warm feelings 
which the story evinced. These qualities prepossessed 
me so in your favour, that I am afraid I continue under 
their influence, and therefore I dare not yet answer 


cat^orically or impartially the question you ask as to 
whether you may in time become a great authoress. 
I can only say, further, that I shall be very happy 
to insert it in the next number of my journal. As to 
your question, I advise you to work and write — ^for the 
rest, time will show. 

^* I will not hide from you that there is much in the 
story which is unfinished, much which is too nafve; 
there are — forgive my bluntness — sins agsunst the Rus- 
^an grammar. But all these are only insignificant faults, 
which you can easily overcome by work, and the whole 
makes an undoubtedly pleasant impression. 

" Therefore I again repeat. Write, write. It would 
truly rejoice me if you would tell me something about 
yourself — how old you are, and in what surroimdings 
you live ? It is of importance for me to know all this, 
in order to judge your talents. 

** Yours truly, 

"Fedor Dostojbvsky." 

Tanja read the note with the utmost astonishment, 
and its letters danced before her eyes. The name 
Dostojevsky was well known to her. During the last 
few years it had often been mentioned at the dinner- 
table in the quarrels between her father and sister. 
Tanja knew that he was one of the foremost Russian 
authors ; but how did he come to write to Anyuta, and 
what did it all mean ? For a moment she thought that 
her sister was playing a practical joke upon her, in 
order to make merry over her simplicity. 

After she had finished reading the letter, Tanja 

'-- -««aa*«ita 



gazed silently at Anyuta without knowing what to say. 
The latter enjoyed her astonishment. 

" Do you understand — do you see ? ** at last she 
excldmed, with a voice shaking with glad emotion ; " I 
have written a story and sent it to Dostojevsky without 
telling any one a word about it — and you see he thinks 
it very nice, and is putting it into his journal. So 
at last I have got my desire — I am an authoress ! '* 
She almost screamed the last word in an outburst of 
irresistible delight. 

And in truth, if one wants to understand what this 
word ** authoress" meant to the two sisters, one must 
remember that they lived in the wilderness, far from 
every (even the least) movement of literary life. The 
family, it is true, read much and ordered many books, 
but to all of them, each book, each printed word, 
came from a distance, from the unknown world with 
which they had not an interest in common. Wonderful 
as it may seem, it is nevertheless a fact that neither of 
the sisters had ever seen any one who had ever seen 
themselves in print. There certainly was in the district 
town a schoolmaster about whom a sudden rumour 
was spread that he was to be the correspondent of a 
newspaper for that district, and Tanja remembers well 
the respectful awe with which they met him ; till at 
last it appeared that he was not the correspondent at 
all, but that it was some journalist from St. Petersburg 
who had stayed there on his journey through the town. 

And now her own sister suddenly appeared before 
her as an authoress, Tanja had no words in which to 
express her delight and astonishment. She would only 


throw herself round Anyuta's neck, pet her, and laugh 
and talk all sorts of nonsense. 

Anyuta dared not mention her success to any other 
member of her family, not even to her mother, who 
would be startled and go and tell her father. In his 
eyes such an act as writing to Dostojevsky without 
parental sanction, and submitting to his decision^ 
perhaps his scorn, would be a heavy crime. Pocm" 
General Rajevsky ! He who had such a horror of 
women writers, and suspected them all and individually 
of every possible crime and misdemeanour which had 
no connection whatsoever with literature ; he it was 
who was doomed to be the father of an authoress. 
Personally he had only known one blue-stocking, as 
he called them, the Countess Rostoptschin, a famous 
poetess. He had met her at Moscow at a time when 
she was a brilliant and feted beauty, for whom the 
whole of the aristocratic youth of that day, the General 
included, sighed in vain. Later, many years after, he 
came across her abroad at the Baden gaming tables. 

" I could hardly trust my eyes," the General would 
often say, *' when I saw the Countess come into the 
gambling room with a whole train of vagabonds after 
her, one more vulgar than the other. They were all 
laughing and talking and joking together with her as 
familiarly as possible. She went up to the table and 
began to throw down a mint of money, piece by piece. 
Her eyes glittered and her cheeks flamed, and her 
chignon got all awry. She played away everything she 
had by degrees, and then cried out, * Well, gentlemen, 
I am cleared out. Nothing goes right. Come, let us 


forget our worries in champagne/ Well, one can see 
what it leads a woman to when she dabbles with pens 
and ink ! " 

It was therefore quite apparent that Anyuta would 
not be eager to boast of her success to her father. But 
It was just the mystery in which she was forced to 
envelop her first d^but in the path of literature which 
gave it its special charm. Ah, how delicious it was, 
a few weeks later, when the monthly number of the 
** Epoch " came, and the sisters read on the title-page, 
** Dreams ; a story by Juri Orbjalof (this was the 
pseudonym Anyuta chose, as she could not use her own 
name). Anyuta had naturally already read her story to 
Tanja in MS., but when the child saw it in print it 
seemed to her something altogether new and wonderful. 

The story was as follows. The heroine, Liljenka, 
lived in a circle of very elderly people, who had been 
badly treated by life, and who had withdrawn to a quiet 
corner there to find peace and forgetful ness. They 
sought to implant in Liljenka their own fear of life 
and its troubles. But the unknown life allured her 
and drew her forth, as its distant echo came to her like 
a far-off murmur of waves from an unseen ocean con- 
cealed behind the mountains. She thought that there 
was a place 

^' Where men lived in greatest happiness. 
Where they lived a living life, 
And did not spin their spider's web." 

But where should she find these people ? 

Unconsciously Liljenka was herself infected by the 


prejudices which surrounded her. Almost uncon- 
sciously she asked herself at every step. Is it smtable 
for a young lady to do so and so ? She wanted to tear 
herself free from the narrow world in which she lived, 
but all that was common or ^' unbecoming '* frightened 

Once at a public festival in the town she made ac- 
quaintance with a young student. Of course every 
hero of a story in those days was a young student 
This young man made a great impression upon her, 
but, as became a well-brought-up young lady, she did 
not show him how much she liked him, and their 
acquaintance broke off at their first meeting. 

At first Liljenka sorrowed over this, but by degrees 
she calmed herself. At last it was only when acciden- 
tally, among the different memorials of her colourless 
life — ^which she, like most other young girls, kept in 
her drawer — she hit upon some reminder of that never- 
to-be-forgotten day, that she hastened to shut her 
drawer again, and would then during the whole day 
be sad and preoccupied. 

But one night she had a dream ; she thought that 
the young student came to her and upbraided her for 
not following him. The dream opened up to Liljenka 
the picture of a more industrious life with a sympa- 
thising friend, in a circle of good, talented men, a life 
filled with bright and sunny happiness in the present, 
and endless hope for the future. " Behold and repent ; 
this is what your life might have been and mine ! " 
said the student to her, and vanished. 

Liljenka woke, and, under the influence of the 


dream, decided that she would no longer be bound by 
the fear of what was becoming. She had hitherto never 
been in the street by herself without a maid or servant, 
but she slipped off by herself, took the first droska, and 
drove to the distant miserable street where she knew 
her dear student lived. After seeking him long, and 
after many adventures caused by her inexperience and 
unpracticalness/ she at last found his dwelling, but 
there she was told by his companion that he had died 
of typhus some days before. His companion told her 
how hard and difficult his life had been, and how he 
had suffered, and how often, when delirious, he -had 
spoken of a young girl. 

In order to comfort her, or perhaps as a reproach to 
the weeping girl, he repeated for her Dobroljudofs 
verse — 

**" I fear that death, like life, shall do me some ill turn ; 
I fear that all I vainly long for here — 
My heart's desire in life's first spring, 
Shall smile on me delusively and fair 
When strikes the hour of death upon my ear." 

Liljenka hurried home, and none of her family 
knew how she had spent the day. But she herself has 
the full and abiding conviction that she has thrown 
away her life. She dies shortly after, bemoaning her 
wasted youth, from which she has not retained even 
one sweet memory. 

Anyuta's first success made her venturesome, and she 
immediately began another story, which she finished in 


a few weeks. The hero this time was a young man 
named Michael, who was educated far from his fanuly 
in a monastery by his uncle, who was a monk. This 
story Dostojevsky praised even more than the first, and 
found her much improved. 

But with its publication all the happiness was at an 
end. Dostojevsky's letter reached the General's hands, 
and the storm broke. 

It happened on the 5 th of September. A memorable 
day in the Rajevsky family annals, as usual a number 
of people had arrived. The post, which came once 
a week to Palibino, was expected on that day. The 
housekeeper, in whose name Anyuta corresponded with 
Dostojevsky, usually met the postboy and took from 
him the letters addressed to her before she carried the 
post in to the General. But to-day she was busy with 
the arrangements for the party, and unfortunately the 
postman had had a drop too much in honour of Madame 
Rajevsky 's name's-day — that is to say he was dead drunk, 
and they had sent a boy instead, who did not know all 
these arrangements. So the postbag came into the 
General without having undergone preliminary sorting 
and sifting. The first letter which caught the General's 
eye was a registered one addressed to the housekeeper, 
and bearing the "Epoch" stamp. "What is this 
little game ? '' the housekeeper was asked, and told to 
open the letter in his presence. One can, or rather more 
justly speaking one cannot, picture what followed on this. 
As ill luck would have it, Dostojevsky sent Anyuta in 
this very letter the honorarium for her stories, some 
three hundred roubles. This circumstance, the fact of 


his daughter receiving money from an unknown person, 
was to the General so shameful and insulting, that he 
had a bad attack of serious illness. He had heart 
disease as well as gall-stones, and the doctor had ex- 
plained that every excitement was bad for him, and 
might even cause death. The possibility of such a 
catastrophe kept the family in constant anxiety. If any 
of the children angered him, his face became dark blue, 
and they were seized with fear lest he should die. 
What would happen now when he was struck by such 
a blow, and the house into the bargain full of guests ? 
A regiment was quartered in the district town in the 
neighbourhood of Palibino, and it being Madame 
Rajevsky's name's-day, all the officers and their colonel 
appeared to surprise her with the regimental band. 

The name's-day banquet was already over. In 
the big drawing-room, on the upper floor, all the 
chandeliers and candelabra were lit, and the guests, who 
had rested after dinner, had dressed, and were now 
assembling for the ball. The young lieutenants were 
puffing over the work of putting on their white gloves. 
Before the mirrors were crowds of young girls in 
tarlatan dresses and the huge crinolines which were 
then the fashion. 

Anyuta felt generally superior to the pleasures of 
this small society, but to-day she was quite intoxicated 
by it all — the gaily-clad guests, the music, the flood of 
light, and the consciousness that she herself was the 
most beautiful and admired person there. She forgot 
her new dignity as a Russian authoress, forgot how 
little these red-headed frowsy lieutenants were like the 


ideal hero of whom she had dreamed ; she flitted about» 
smiling at every one and everything, and enjoying the 
consciousness that she could turn all their heads. 
They only waited for the General to begin the dance. 
Suddenly a servant entered and went up to Madame 
Rajevsky. " His Excellency was ill — ^would her lady- 
ship go down to him in his study ? " 

Every one was startled. Madame Rajevsky got up, 
hastily picked up her long silk train, and hastened 
downstairs. The musicians in the next room, waiting 
for the signal agreed upon to commence the quadrille, 
got orders to wait awhile. 

Half an hour passed. The guests became uneasy. 
Suddenly Madame Rajevsky returned. Her counte- 
nance was flushed with emotion, but she tried to appear 
calm, and forced a strained smile. To the anxious 
inquiries of her guests how the General was, she 
answered evasively that he was not very well, but 
begged them to excuse him and to begin the dance 
at once. 

All noticed that there was something wrong, but 
politely refrained from questions, but all started off 
dancing as busily as possible, as they were dressed for 
it and had assembled for that purpose. And so the 
ball began. When Anyuta now and again in the 
quadrille passed her mother, she cast anxious glances 
at her, and saw by her eyes something dreadful had 
happened. She availed herself of a minute's interval 
between two dances to take her mother aside with a 
storm of questions. 

" What have you done ? All is discovered. Father 


has read Dostojevsky's letter to you, and is almost 
dying of shame and anger/' bemoaned poor Madame 
Rajevsky, with difficulty keeping back her tears. 

Anyuta became deadly pale, and her mother hastened 
to add, " For God's sake command yourself ! Remem- 
ber the house is full of guests, who would be only too 
pleased if they had something to gossip about. Go 
and dance as if nothing had happened." 

And so both mother and daughter continued dancing 
till morning, both half dead with fear of the tempest 
which would burst over their heads as soon as the 
guests were gone. 

And a fearful tempest it was. 

So long as the guests were there^ the General shut 
himself into his room and allowed no one in. In the 
intervals of the dance Madame Rajevsky and Anyuta 
rushed out of the ballroom and listened at his door, 
but dared not venture in, but turned to each other, 
tortured with the thought, " How is he ? Is he very 
ill ? " 

When all was quiet in the house, he sent for Anyuta 
and gave her a severe scolding. Among other things 
he said — and he said much to her — was one special 
phrase which engraved itself on her memory : " One 
may well expect anything from a young girl who can 
venture without her parent's knowledge to enter into 
correspondence with a stranger and take money from 
him. Now you sell your work, but I am not at all 
sure the day will not come when you will sell yourself." 
Poor Anyuta was seized with horror at these dreadfiil 
words. She knew for certain that they were only 


empty talk, but her father spoke confidently, and with 
such deep conviction in his tone, and was deeply dis- 
turbed and moved. His authority in her was so great 
that for a moment she felt an awful suspense. Had 
she really demeaned herself? Had she perhaps, without 
knowing it, done something fearfully improper ? 

The next few days, as always happened after any 
household disturbance, every one went along as though 
cold water had been thrown over them« The servants 
already knew the whole story. Uja had, as usual, 
played the eaves-dropper at the interview between the 
General and Anyuta, and explained things in his 
fashion. Of course the tale was also rumoured round, 
in an exaggerated and disfigured fashion, among the 
neighbours ; and indeed for long after, the fearfully 
improper behaviour of the young ladies of Palibino 
was discussed in the neighbourhood. 

By degrees the storm was laid. A phenomenon 
took place among the Rajevskys which is pretty 
common in Russian families. The children educated 
their parents. The educational process began with 
the mother. 

At first, as in all the children's quarrels with thdr 
father, she took entirely his side. His illness frightened 
her. How could Anyuta trouble her father in this way ! 
Sometimes she went to Anyuta and tried to persuade 
her. ** Darling Anyuta, do as your father desires. 
Promise never to write again, but turn to something 
else. I remember when I was a girl I wanted very 
much to learn to play the violin. But my father 
would not permit it, because he thought it ungraceful 


for a woman to use the fiddle-stick. Well, what did 
it matter ? I, of course, did not oppose him ; I b^an 
to take singing lessons instead. Why cannot you 
abandon literature and take up some other occupation 
instead ? " But when she saw that all her persuasion 
was no good, but that Anyuta went about with the 
same troubled, injured air, she began to think she was 
wrong. There also awoke in her a curiosity to read 
Anyuta's story, and then she became privately quite 
proud that her daughter was an authoress. 

In this way she gradually came over to Anyuta's 
side, and the General found himself standing alone. 

In the first moment of anger he had required a 
promise from his daughter that she would never write 
again, and only on this condition would he pardon 
her. Anyuta naturally would not give in nor make 
this promise, and the result was that they would not 
speak to each other for many days, and Anyuta would 
not appear at table. Madame Rajevsky ran from one 
to the other, persuading and mediating ; till at last 
the General gave in, and the first step in the path of 
reconciliation was that he consented to hear Anyuta's 

The reading took place most solemnly. The whole 
family was assembled. Fully conscious of the im- 
portance and meaning of the moment, Anyuta read 
with a voice quivering with emotion. The heroine's 
position, her desire to get away fi-om her own circle, 
her suflFering under the yoke of the prejudices which 
oppressed her — all this was so like the authoress's own 
experiences that it was recognised by every one. The 



General listened silently, without uttering a word 
during the reading. But when Anyuta came to the 
last page, and could hardly suppress her own sobs as 
she read how the dying Liljenka bewailed her own 
wasted youth, her father's eyes suddenly filled with 
tears. He got up without speaking, and left the 
room. Neither that evening nor on the succeeding 
days did he speak to Anyuta of her story, but he 
behaved towards her with great tenderness, and every 
one understood her cause was won. 

From that day there was in truth for the Rajevskys 
a time of gentleness and peace. The first event in the 
new era was that the housekeeper, whom the General 
had in his first anger sent about her business, was 
graciously forgiven and kept her place. 

The next act of indulgence was still more surprising. 
The General permitted Anyuta to write to Dosto- 
jevsky, on the condition only that she showed him her 
letter, and promised that she should make acquaintance 
with him in the approaching visit to St. Petersburg. 
As has been already mentioned^ Madame Rajevsky and 
Anyuta were accustomed almost every winter to travel 
to St. Petersburg, where the former had quite a colony 
of old unmarried aunts on her mother's side. They all 
lived together in a big house in the Vasili OstrofF, and 
always kept two or three rooms at the service of any 
relatives who might like to visit them. The General 
usually remained quietly in the country, and Tanja 
also, hitherto under the governess's care. But as the 
Englishwoman had left, and the newly-imported Swiss 
governess had not yet acquired sufficient authority, 


Madame Rajevsky determined, to Tanja's great joy, to 
take her with her. 

The Rajevskys generally left in January, as the 
sledging was then good. It was not quite an easy 
undertaking in those days to travel to St. Petersburg. 
First they had to go through sixty versts of country 
roads with their own horses, then two hundred versts 
on the state roads with post-horses, and then lastly 
there was nearly a day's railway journey. The mother 
and her two daughters travelled together in a great 
covered carriage on a sledge drawn by six horses, and 
behind followed the sledges with the maid and trunks. 
These sledges had three horses each abreast, capari- 
soned with bells, which jingled a merry accompani- 
ment all the way and echoed through the travellers' 
sleep, as they came now nearer, now more distant, and 
then died away in the distance, and then fell again upon 
the ear. 

What an amount of preparation that journey re- 
quired ! In the kitchen there was all the business of 
providing dainties sufficient for the whole expedition. 
The cook was famous through the whole country for 
his pastry, and never did he display so much zeal in 
this branch of his work as when he had to make pastry 
for the family's journey. 

And what a wonderful journey it was ! The first 
sixty versts were through forests — thick, deep-towering 
forests, only broken by a number of larger or smaller 
lakes. In winter these lakes looked like huge plains 
of snow, against which the solemn pine-forests sur- 
rounding them were dark and sharply defined. The 


journey was wonderful enough by day, but still more 
so by night. Tanja slept soundly one minute, only to 
wake the next with a sudden jolt of the vehicle, and 
never knew at first where she was. The freshly- 
lighted little carriage-lamp which hung from the roof 
of the carriage cast a faint light over the strange 
sleeping figures, in their heavy pelisses and white 
travelling caps. Were those really her mother and 
sister? The frozen window-panes were encrusted 
with wonderful silver patterns, and the sledge-bdb 
rang at intervals. All was so wonderful, so strange, 
that for the first moment she was not able to realise 
it all, and she only knew she was very stifF with lying 
in an uncomfortable position. Suddenly a ray of in- 
telligence would bring to her brain the consciousness 
where they were and whither they were travelling, how 
many wonders and new things were awaiting her, and 
her heart leapt with joy. Yes, it was a wonderful 
journey. It was for Tanja one of the brightest 
memories of her cUldhood. 


ON their arrival in St. Petersburg, Anyuta at once 
wrote to Dostojevsky and asked him to call. 
He appeared on the day fixed. With what feverish 
anxiety both sisters awaited him ! An hour before 
the right time they were listening eagerly for every 
sound in the hall. This first visit of his, however, 
passed off very unpleasantly. 

As already mentioned, General Rajevsky was very 
suspicious of everything which was connected with the 
literary world, and it was only with an anxious heart 
and secret trepidation that he gave his daughter leave 
to make Dostojevsky's acqu^ntance. 

" Remember, Lina, it is a great responsibility which 
is resting upon you," he said to his wife before they 
started. " Dostojevsky is a person who does not 
belong to our class. What do we know about him ? 
Nothing, but that he is a journalist, and has to boot 
been in prison. That, I must say, is a first-class 
recommendation ! You must promise to be very 
cautious with him.'* 

The first precaution he took was to insist that she 
should be present at the first interview between Dosto- 
jevsky and Anyuta, and she was not to leave them 
together alone for a moment. Tanja had also asked 




leave to be present at the interview. Two old German 
aunts of Madame Rajevsky's also had, on some pre- 
tence or other, called at this very moment, and stared 
curiously at the author, as though he were a wild 
beast, while they seated themselves on a sofa and 
would not move till he had left. 

Anyuta was extremely annoyed that this first meeting 
with her great poet, which she had dreamt about so 
much, should take place under such unfavourable 
circumstances. Dostojevsky felt awkward and ill at 
ease in the constrained atmosphere among all these old 
ladies, and he too was annoyed. He appeared that 
day to be sick and old, which was always the case 
when he was not in a good temper. The whole time 
he kept fingering his thin yellow beard and biting his 
lips, and thus contorted his whole face. 

Madame Rajevsky tried her very best to keep up 
an interesting conversation. With her most fascinating 
and attractive smile, but at the same time evidently 
perplexed and ill at ease, she tried to say all sorts of 
polite and pretty things to him, and to bring forward 
deep questions. 

Dostojevsky answered in monosyllables, with ap- 
parent rudeness. At last Madame Rajevsky was at 
the end of her resources also, and became silent. 
After he had sat about half an hour, Fedor Dosto- 
jevsky took his hat, bowed awkwardly and hur- 
riedly, and went off without shaking hands with any 

When he had gone, Anyuta rushed into her room 
and threw herself on her bed, weeping. " They 



always spoil everything for me/' she exclaimed, 
sobbing convulsively. 

Poor Madame Rajevsky felt herself guilty without 
knowing why, and at the same time was vexed, for she 
had striven so very hard to please every one. It was 
rather hard on her. She also burst out weeping. 
" There, you see — you are never, never pleased. Papa 
allows you your way, gives you leave to know your 
ideal, I sit a whole hour listening to his rudeness, and 
then you throw all the blame on us." 

In a word, every one was made unhappy, and had 
an unpleasant impression of this visit which they had 
all looked forward to with so much pleasure. 

But five days later, Dostojevsky appeared at the 
Rajevskys', and this time he came at a lucky moment. 
Neither Madame Rajevsky nor her aunts were at 
home, only the two sisters ; and the ice was broken. 
Dostojevsky seized Anyuta's hand. They sat together 
on the sofa, and began to talk away like old friends 
of many years* standing. The conversation did not 
languish as on the first occasion, nor did it halt along 
from one dull subject to another. But Anyuta and 
Dostojevsky were equally eager to say all they had in 
their hearts, and outdid each other in their bright talk. 

Tanja sat by them without mixing in the conver- 
sation, and without taking her eyes off Dostojevsky, 
whose least word she drank in eagerly. He appeared 
to her to be quite another man— quite young, and so 
simple and good, and at the same time full of genius. 
" Can he really be forty-three ? " she thought ; " can he 
be three times older than I am and more than twice as 


old as Anyuta ? Ajid he is into the bargain a great 
author, and yet one can really converse with him as with 
a friend." And Tanja thought, as she sat there so 
intimately, that she liked him very much. 

" And such a dear little sister as you have here ! " he 
said, quite unexpectedly. The instant before he had 
been talking to Ajiyuta on quite different subjects^ and 
seemed not to have remarked Tanja at all. 

Tanja blushed crimson, and her heart filled with 
gratitude to her sister, who, in answer to his remark, 
began to tell Dostojevsky what a good, dependable 
little sister Tanja was, and how she was the only one 
in the family who understood and sympathised with 
her. Anyuta warmed up in her praise, endowed her 
with all sorts of wonderful abilities, till at last she 
informed Dostojevsky that Tanja also wrote verses — 
" really not at all bad ones, for her age " ; and, 
notwithstanding the child's protests, she jumped up 
and fetched two fat budgets of Tanja*s poems^ from 
which Dostojevsky, with a little smile, read two or 
three bits, which he praised. Anyuta beamed with 
content. How Tanja loved her at that moment ! She 
could have given her life for both these individuals, 
whom she adnured so greatly. 

Three hours passed unnoticed. Suddenly there was 
a ring at the vestibule bell. It was Madame Rajevsky, 
who returned home from her shopping. Without 
knowing of Dostojevsky's presence, she came in, with 
her hat on, laden with parcels and apologising for 
being late for dinner. 

When she saw Dostojevsky sitting there so much at 


home, alone with her daughter, she was astonished, 
and began to be a little anxious. ** What would the 
General say about this ? " was her first thought. But the 
girls flung themselves round her neck, and when she 
saw them so bright and beaming she also thawed, and 
ended by asking Dostojevsky to share their simple 
dinner with them. 

From that day he was quite at home at the Rajev- 
skys*, and as their visit to St. Petersburg was to be a 
very short one, he visited them often three or four times 
a week. It was particularly delightful when he came in 
the evenings, and when there were no other strangers 
there. Then he was specially charming and capti- 
vating, in general conversation he could not talk. 
He spoke best in monologue, and that only under the 
condition that those present were sympathetic to him 
and listened with strained attention. But if this 
condition were fulfilled he could talk more brightly 
and lucidly and vividly than any one. 

Sometimes he would narrate the contents of novels 
he intended to write ; sometimes scenes and circum- 
stances of his own life. '^ Life has done me many an 
ill turn," he would say sometimes. " But it may have 
been so in order to prevent my being spoiled, and it 
has managed this so thoroughly and completely that I 
would gladly yield up my life now.'* 

Some of Dostojevsky 's brightest memories were 
those connected with the publication of his first 
novel, " Poor People." He began to write it when 
he was quite young, when he was a pupil in an 
engineer's school ; and ended it when he was twenty- 


three, and after he had become a soldier. He sent it 
to a journal, " Our Age," which had just been started 
under the famous critic Bjalinsky, and the then rising 
star, Nekrasof the poet, and the novelist Gregorovitsch, 
who later became so famous. But he had hardly sent 
off the manuscript when he repented it. Like most 
authors, he suffered from the psycholc^cal peculiarity 
that, so long as he was writing a romance, he himself 
was delighted with it, and thought he had made a 
great success and that it was a work of genius. But 
as soon as his manuscript was ready and sent ofF to the 
editor of some journal, he was seized with misgivings, 
all the novel's faults stood out clearly before him, and 
all the rest of the work he thought dull and meaning- 
less. He felt an aversion to his own work, and was 
ashamed of it. Perhaps there is no author who does 
not - go through this psychological drubbing some time 
or other, but Dostojevsky, with his nervous and 
suspicious nature, suffered from it probably in an 
unusual degree. ** Bajlinsky will only laugh at my 
*'Poor People," he said to himself, sadly; and this 
idea gradually grew into a conviction with him. His 
depression of spirit was so great during the first few 
days after this manuscript was sent off, that he actually 
tried to drown despair in dissipation. " All night," he 
told his young friends, " I roamed about hither and 
thither to different places, without enjoying myself, in 
the depths of depression and in the bitterness of spirit. 
The clock was striking four in the morning when I 
came home. It was the month of May, and the 
bright St. Petersburg nights were as bright as day. I 



never could bear those nights : they always upset my 
nerves and make me low-spirited. It was so at that 
time. I could not sleep, but sat, with open windows 
gloomy and sullen. I felt inclined to go and drown 
myself. Suddenly I heard a ring at the door bell. 
Who on earth could be coming at that hour.^ I 
opened the door. Nekrasof and Grigorovitsch rushed 
in and began, without saying a word, to embrace me 
madly. I could not understand a thing, but gazed at 
them wildly. At last I understood that they had, on 
the previous evening, begun to read my book, just to 
try the first ten pages or so ; then the next ten pages ; 
and so on and on until they, before they knew where 
they were, had read the whole at one sitting. When 
they had got to the place where Pokrovsky's old 
father runs after the son's coffin, Nekrasof — so Grigoro- 
vitsch told me later — had struck the book with his 
hand, * The very devil of a lad.' They both determined 
to go straight off after me. ' If he is sleeping, we will 
wake him. It can't be helped ; it is more important 
than all the sleep in the world.' 

" You can imagine what it was to me," said 
Dostojevsky, so carried away by his tale that he could 
hardly speak for gladness. "There are many who 
have succeeded, who have won fame, and who have 
been congratulated ; but only think ! they came rushing 
to me at four in the morning, with tears in their eyes, to 
wake me — because it was worth more than sleep. " 

But however dear to Dostojevsky was Nekrasofs and 
Grigorovitsch's sympathy, he considered Bjalinsky's 
judgment of still greater importance, and was still 


afraid of him. But even that severe critic was 
fascinated by " Poor People," although he was at first 
very cool towards the new author. Nekrasof had 
unfortunately taken him the manuscript, exclaiming: 
"A new Gogol has appeared." 

" Well ! they grow like mushrooms out of the 
ground^" remarked Bjalinsky, unsympathetically, and 
the unfortunate praise made him so cross that he could 
not for long be induced to read the story. But at last 
he read it, and at once called the young writer to him. 

" I went to him with beating heart," said Dosto- 
jevsky, " and he received mc with the utmost dignity 
and reserve." He looked at me silently, as if trying 
to fathom me, and then said, * Do you yourself under- 
stand what you have written ? ' And he asked this in 
so severe a tone that I was frightened, and did not 
know what to make of it. But after this introduction 
followed a magnificent tirade. I was altogether aghast, 
and thought, * Have I really done anything so wonder- 

Now came a time of life and activity in literature. 
During the next year Turgenyef Gontscharof and 
Herzen brought out their first work. Many other 
new lights also illumined the literary heaven, which 
later certainly proved only bright vanishing meteors, 
though at their rising it was considered that they 
would rank as stars of the first niiagnitude. The 
public also evinced an unusual interest in literature. 
More books and periodicals were purchased in Russia 
at this time than at any other. From the west came 
slight breezes of the tempestuous winds of 1848. All 


Europe found itself in a state of combustion. Every 
one awaited something. Every one prepared for what 
was coming. Liberty, equality, and the rights of the 
people were floating in the air, and still retained their 
first intoxicating freshness. 

There arose at St. Petersburg, particularly among 
the students and pupils of the Polytechnic, numberless 
small circles which, at starting at all events, had merely 
a literary aim. Young men joined together to subscribe 
for foreign books and journals, and met to read them 
aloud. But in consequence of the severity of the 
police in inexorably forbidding all meetings of any kind 
whatsoever, the young men had to use the greatest 
secrecy, and this led, in its turn, to the associations 
quickly taking a political character. Petraschevsky, an 
unusually gifted young man and a warm supporter of 
Fourier's views, was the first who thought of uniting 
all these small circles into a common organisation, and 
forming them into a sort of political association. For 
the rest, the object of the society by the documents 
of the organisation — as it appeared in the action against 
Petraschevsky — was wholly and purely of a theoretical 
nature and perfectly innocent, if one compares it with 
the later Nihilistic propaganda. Petraschevsky and his 
kindred spirits had nothing in their minds which was 
in any way aimed at the Emperor's life, or at open 
disturbance. They certainly surrounded their meetings 
with the greatest secrecy, but the questions which they 
discussed all took an abstract aspect, and were some- 
times almost naive — as, for example, " Can one 
reconcile the principle of love in man with the murder 


of spies and traitors ? " or, ** Is the Greek religion at 
variance with Fourier's ideal ? " 

Dostojevsky also joined Petraschevsky. In the inquiry 
which took place, he was charged with having read at 
one of their meetings an account of Fourier's theory, 
and had moreover proposed to establish a secret press. 
For this small, unimportant crime Dostojevsky had to 
pay with — Siberia. 

The 23rd of April, 1849, ^^^ ^ ^^^' ^^Y ^^ 
Petraschevskytes. Petraschevsky himself and thirty- 
four of his comrades were arrested. 

** On the evening of April 22nd, I came home at 
two o'clock at night from one of our comrade's," said 
Dostojevsky. " I undressed myself and went to bed, and 
slept at once. But after an hour or so, I noticed in 
my sleep that my room was full of strange and sus- 
picious-looking people. I heard the clank of swords, 
which were hacking at something. What did it all 
mean ? I opened my eyes with an effort, and heard a 
gentle, sympathetic voice say, * Get up.' I looked up 
and saw a police officer with a magnificent beard. But 
it was not he who had spoken, but an officer in a 
light blue uniform, with lieutenant-colonel's epaulets. 
The light blue uniform is worn exclusively by gen- 
darmes, a regiment which is always placed at the 
service of the secret police. * What on earth is the 
matter ? * I asked, as I raised myself in bed. * In the 
Emperor's name.' I looked round. It was evidently 
in the Emperor's name. 

"At the door stood a soldier, also in light blue. 
* Aha ! is that how it stands ? ' I thought. * Allow 


me * ' Not a word. Dress yourself ; we can 

wait/ interrupted the lieutenant-colonel, with a still 
more sympathetic voice. 

" While I dressed they turned over the leaves of 
my books and inspected the room. They did not find 
much, but poked about everywhere. They carefully 
tied up my papers and letters. The commissary of 
police seemed to inspect everything with the greatest 
care. He crept into the stove and poked about with 
his pipe-stem in the ashes. At his orders the gendarme 
got a chair and climbed up to look on the top of the 
stove, but the upper tier gave way, and he fell noisily, 
first on to the chair and then on to the floor. This 
seemed to convince both astute gentlemen that nothing 
was at the top of the stove. 

" We filed out, led by the frightened housekeeper 
and her servant Ivan, who also was much frightened, 
but who looked on with a kind of dull solemnity, as 
though more suitable to the occasion. 

" By the door stood a carriage. We went by the 
canal to Kedjebron. There was a bustle and a stir 
and a crowd of people. I met many fi-iends, who 
were all sleepy and silent. An oflficial met us. A 
continuous succession of gentlemen came up in light 
blue uniforms with new victims. They put us into 
diflFerent rooms, and the whole of the day passed in 
painful uncertainty. For the rest they treated us 
handsomely, gave us tea, breakfast, coffee, and dinner, 
and the gendarmes pressed us to eat, bewailing we ate 
so little. 

'* Towards the afiiernoon we were all taken to prison. 


Strangely enough, it never struck me on the road v 
I was going, but when I arrived I understood 
once. I was led into a miserable little cell, faint! 
by a little lamp standing on the high shelf by 
window, and I was left alone. My cell was e^nd^ 
so wet, that when the commandant on the next moi 
came in he could not refrain from remarking, • Tl 
1 1 ' really not proper.* On my asking why I had 

! ti arrested, he answered, ' That you will know altogt 

at the trial.' But the first exanunation' did not 
place till ten days later, and the whole time I ws 
utter idleness. I had neither papers nor books, 
only interruption to the monotony was when the 
door opened, five times a day : at seven o'clock, i 
they came to bring me water for washing and to 
the room ; ten o'clock, for the inspector's round ; tv 
o'clock, to bring in dinner (two portions of cabbaj 
some other soup, and a bit of veal torn in shred 
neither knives nor forks accompanied it) ; seven o'c 
for supper ; and lastly, when it got dark, they bro 
the lamp, which after all was superfluous, as they 
me nothing to do. Thus we were kept eight moi 
After the first two months they gave us books, lh( 
only very few ; but we grew so weary that we rega 
the days when we were examined as real festi 
How the examination was developing, how it w 
end, that we knew nothing about. 

"But on the morning of February 22nd appeare 
imexpected officer at my door, and read my sentc 
I was to be shot, ff^hen was not mentioned. Bu: 
hour had hardly passed when the in^ctor came 



Drdered me to dress myself in my own clothes, not in 
rhose of the State, which I had worn in prison. Under 
1 strong guard I was led out into the courtyard, where 
ilready nineteen of my comrades were waiting. They 
put us into carriages, four in each, with a soldier. It 
was seven o'clock in the morning. Where they were 
taking us we knew not. We asked the soldier, but 
he answered that he dare not say. And as it was very 
cold out, we could not see anything through the frozen 
panes. I tried to rub the glass with my finger, but 
the soldier said, * Don't do that, or I shall be beaten.' 
There was evidently nothing to be done but to abstain 
from satisfying our easily explicable curiosity. 

" After what seemed to us a never-ending journey, 
we arrived at last at the Semjenovskiplatsen ; a scaffold 
was raised in the middle, and the whole twenty of us were 
led up there two by two. After a long imprisonment 
md separation from our comrades, we longed to greet 
gach other and to talk to each other, but we were 
JO closely watched we only succeeded in exchanging a 
Few words with those who stood nearest us. The 
official stepped in front of the scaffold, and read out 
Dur sentence. The punishment was to be carried out. 
The twenty times repeated words — sentenced to be 
ihot ' graved themselves on my memory, and often in 
ater years I would wake suddenly at night, thinking 
:hat some one was shrieking them in my ear. 

" Another circumstance comes to my mind wth equal 
vividness and clearness. I remember how the officer, 
ifter he had finished reading, folded up the paper and 
ituflfed it into his pocket and stepped down from 



the erection. At the same moment the sun car 
out of the clouds, and it distinctly flashed across me 
* It is imposable ! they do not mean to shoot us.' 
said it to my next neighbour, but instead of answeri 
he pointed to the scaffold where stood a row of coff 
covered by a cloth. 

" When I saw this, I lost all hope, and instead v 
impressed with the conviction they meant to shoot u5 

" I remember I became very frightened, but at t 
same time determined not to show it. Therefore 
began to talk to my companion of every imaginal 
thing. He told me afterwards that I was not at 
remarkably pale, and that I spoke all the time ol 
story which I thought out, and which I was very soi 
not to write down. But I do not remember it in t 
least. On the contrarv, I remember a whole numi 
of isolated, inconsequent ideas which thronged upon r 

" A priest now stepped up on to the scaffold, a 
invited those who would to confess. Only one of 
accepted his services, but when the priest stretched 1 
crucifix to us we all touched it with our lips. 

" Three of my comrades, Petraschevsky, Grigor 
and Mombel, who were considered the most guilty, I 
already been bound to stakes, and had a sort of si 
drawn over their heads. Opposite them a company 
soldiers were drawn up, only waiting the commandai 
fatal word * Fire.' I had, as I supposed, at the m 
five minutes to live, and I decided to devote them 
thinking of myself. I tried to picture to myself h 
it should all happen. Now I was fiill of life and o 
sciousness : in five minutes I should be nothings 


someone or something quite different. From the place 
where I stood the cupola of a church glittered in the 
sun. I remember that I stared perseveringly at that 
cupola and at the radiance which it gave forth, and I 
was seized with the fancy that this radiance was my 
new world, into which I should in five minutes be 
absorbed. I remember how painfiil it was, this physical 
aversion I had for the new unknown which approached 
nearer and nearer. 

**A strange stir took place on the scaffold. My 
near-sightedness prevented me from distinguishing any- 
thing, but I knew something was happening. Suddenly 
I became aware of an officer riding full-tilt across the 
square in our direction, and waving a white handker- 

" This was an imperial messenger bringing us mercy. 
Later, it proved mercy had been determined upon 
previously ; and in truth how could it have been possible 
to have punished with death twenty youths, some 
hardly out of childhood, for offences so small ? But 
the Emperor Nicholas had intended to punish us thus 
in order to frighten us, so that we should remember his 

" But the little comedy was one which had severe con- 
sequences for many of us. When Grigorjef, one of the 
ringleaders, was released from the stake he was silly ; 
he had lost his senses during the fearful five minutes 
he stood there with his eyes blindfolded waiting for 
the fetal word of command, and he never afterwards 
recovered his understanding. Furthermore, I do not 
think there is a single one amongst us who has not 






had some trouble in our nervous sjrstem since 

" But there was another circumstance, which die 
make any impression upon me personally, which ] 
not notice at the time, but which had also serious 
sequences for many of us, and cost the life of o 
our party. It was the intense cold of that day, s 
twenty-two degrees of frost Reamur. When we 
led on to the scaffold they took off not only our g 
coats, but jackets and vests, and left us without wr 
any kind. We stood there for fully twenty minut 
our shirts. When we went back to prison several 
had our ears and toes frostbitten. One was ill 
inflammation of the lungs, which later on devel 
into galloping consumption. But, I repeat, I ca 
remember, however much I try to recall it, that I 
the least consciousness of feeling cold. 

" Instead of death we were sent for eight years' ] 
servitude to Siberia, and were subjected for many ; 
after to police supervision." 

Tanja and Anyuta knew that Dostojevsky su£ 
from epilepsy, but this illness was in their eyes 
rounded by such a mysterious horror, that they c 
ventured to make the most distant allusion to 
subject. To their astonishment he himself bega 
speak of it, and narrated the circumstances under w 
I he was first attacked. It was after they had left 1 

prison, and had been transported to Siberia as coloi 
During this time he was fearfully lonely. Somet 
I for months he did not meet a living soul with w 

he could exchange a sensible word. Suddenly, 


quite unexpectedly, an old friend came to see him. It 
vras Easter eve. But in the gladness of meeting they 
forgot the solemn occasion, and sat up the whole night 
together talking, not being conscious of weariness or 
how the time passed, and overwhelmed each other with 
their talk. They conversed on subjects dear to both 
— on literature, art, philosophy, and finally they came 
to religion. His companion was an atheist, Dosto- 
jevsky a believer, and both were warmly convinced of 
the truth of their views. 

" There is a God — there is ! " exclaimed at last 
Dostojevsky, quite beyond himself with excitement. 
At the same moment the bells of the neighbouring 
church rang the matins of Easter morn. The air 
trembled with the sound of their music. " And I felt," 
said Dostojevsky, " as though heaven descended to 
earth and absorbed me. I literally felt inspired and 
penetrated by God's spirit. * There is a God ! * I cried, 
and then I knew nothing more." 

** You strong people," he added, '* have no idea of 
the bliss which epileptics experience in the moments 
preceding their attacks. Mahomet assures us in his 
Koran that he had seen Paradise and had been there. 
All sensible folk mock, laugh at him, and call him a liar 
and a deceiver. But he did not lie. He had veritably 
been in Paradise in an attack of epilepsy, from which 
he suffered as I do. 

" I do not know if this bliss lasted a second, an hour, 
or a month, but, believe my word, I would not exchange 
it for all the happiness life could give me." 

Dostojevsky uttered these last few words in his 


peculiar passionate whisper. The sisters sat as thou 
spell-bound by the magic force of his words. Both 
them were suddenly seized by the same idea, " He 
going to have another attack." His mouth was wa 
ing convulsively, and his whole face was contorted. 
Dostojevsky read clearly in their eyes what tl 
feared. He suddenly interrupted himself, passed 
hand over his face, and smiled a little. 

" Do not be afraid," he said ; " I always know befc 
hand when it is coming over me." 

The girls felt ashamed and distressed that he sho 
have guessed their thoughts, as he certainly did. 
f left almost directly, but the next day he told them t 

' he really had had a severe fit during the night. 

' Sometimes Dostojevsky was quite realistic in 

mode of expression, and quite forgot he was talk 
to young girls, and put Madame Rajcvsky into 
fearful state of mind. But, nevertheless, she 2 
Dostojevsky were soon very good friends. J 
thought him a fine fellow, though she sometir 
almost lost patience with him. 

At the close of their stay in St. Petersburg it occur 
to Madame Rajevsky to have a farewell party, and 
invite all her acquaintance. She also, of her own ic 
asked Dostojevsky to come. He hesitated long, 1 
at last she succeeded in persuading him — though 
had some cause to regret that she had done so. 1 
J party was a melancholy affair. As the Rajevskys 1 

lived for ten years in the country, they had naturally 
* circle of their own, in the ordinary meaning of the wc 

j in St. Petersburg. They had only old acquaintances j 


friends who had long been separated in every direction. 
Some of these had, during the ten years, made brilliant 
careers, and had clambered up to the top of the social 
ladder. Others had fallen into poverty and needy 
circumstances, and lived a penurious existence in remote 
quarters of the Vasili OstrofF, although possessing the 
necessaries of life. There was nothing in common 
between all these people, but nearly all accepted the 
invitation and came to Madame Rajevsky out of 
old friendship's sake, " pour est pauvre, chere 

It was a somewhat large and strangely mixed party 
which met at the Rajevskys. Among the guests were the 
wife and daughters of a minister (the minister himself 
had promised to come later in the evening, for a moment, 
but did not keep his word). There was also an old, 
venerable, bald-headed, antiquated German, who occu- 
pied an important office, and who smacked his toothless 
mouth the whole time, while he constantly kissed 
Madame Rajevsky's hand, and kept repeating to the 
two girls, '' Your mother was a great beauty ; neither 
of her daughters are as lovely as she." There was also 
an old ruined landed gentleman from the Baltic pro- 
vinces, who stayed in St. Petersburg in the vain hope 
of getting an advantageous appointment. 

The guests moved about, interested in nothing and 
indifferent to each other. All were dull, but as well- 
bred people of the world to whom a dull party was an 
inevitable part of their existence, they abandoned them- 
selves to their fate without a murmur and bore the 
deadly dulness with stoical bravery. One can imagine 



how out of countenance Dostojcvsky would be in such 
company. Both by manners and position he was cut 
ofF from the others. In honour of the great occasion 
he had sacrificed his coat for evening dress. His clothes 
fitted him badly, and made it difficult for him to move, 
so that he felt beside himself. Besides, he was put out 
from the instant he crossed the threshold of the drawing- 
room. Like all nervous people, he experienced a feeling 
of irritation when he was in a strange circle. The more 
superficial, commonplace, and uncongenial the company 
was, the more uncomfortable he became. He was 
vexed, and at last sought some circumstance on which 
to vent his bitterness. 

Madame Rajevsky hastened to present him to the 
other guests, but instead of saying a few customary 
words, he only muttered something like a growl, and 
turned his back on them. 

The worst was, he evidently intended to absorb 
Anyuta for his own exclusive benefit. He led her to 
a corner of the room with the evident intention of 
not letting her go. This was naturally at variance 
with every social idea of what was proper. Into the 
bargain, his manner towards her was not at all comme 
il faut ; he took her hand and whispered several times 
into her ear during the course of the conversation. 
Anyuta became uncomfortable, and Madame Rajevsky 
was quite wild. At first she tried to give a gentle 
hint to Dostojevsky in order just to show him that he 
was behaving badly. She also went, as though acci- 
dentally, and called her daughter to send her oflF on 
some errand. 




Anyuta tried to get up, but Dostojevsky held her 
down with the utmost coolness. 

'* No ; stay where you are, Anne Ivanovna ; I have 
not yet told you. ..." 

But here Madame Rajevsky quite lost patience, and 
went up to him. 

" Excuse me," she said, " but as hostess Anyuta 
must attend to the other guests." She spoke sharply 
and carried ofF her daughter. 

Dostojevsky, deeply ofFended, crept into a corner 
and sat sullenly there, glancing angrily round. 

Among the guests was one who from the first moment 
displeased him. It was a distant cousin of the Rajev- 
skys, an officer of cuirassiers. He was handsome, gifted, 
well educated, and moving in the best circles, and all 
this was in a pleasant, inoflPensive way, with nothing 
outr^ or exaggerated about it. But by the rights of 
relationship he paid Anyuta court just in the same 
unobtrusive way, so that it never attracted attention 
but just gave a suggestion that he ** had his plans." 
As usual on such occasions, the whole family knew he 
was an eligible lover and much run after, but every 
one, of course, pretended not to have the least sus- 
picion of such a probability. Even when Madame 
Rajevsky was alone with her aunts, they would barely 
have ventured half a word on the subject, and only 
distantly alluded to this delicate subject. But Dosto- 
jevsky needed only to glance at the tall, well-propor- 
tioned, self-possessed man to conjure up a dislike to 
him almost bordering on hatred. 

The young cuirassier sat in an easy-chair in a pictur- 


esque attitude which allowed him to show ofF a p^r of 
most fashionable trousers, which fitted closely his long, 
well-made legs. He bent confidentially towards Anyuta 
as he sat near her, and told her some funny story, and 
Anyuta, who was still abashed at the episode with 
Dostojevsky, listened to him with a stereotyped smile — 
" smiling like a kind angel," as the English governess 
spitefully called it. Dostojevsky glared at the two. 
His head immediately conjured up a whole romance. 
Anyuta hated and despised that idiot, that self-con- 
ceited whipper-snapper, but her parents wished to 
marry her off to him and brought them together thus. 
The whole party was naturally made up for the pur- 
pose. After thinking out this romance, Dostojevsky 
thought himself much injured. 

The fashionable subject of conversation this winter 
was a book published by an English clergyman, a 
parallel between the Greek and Protestant religions. 
In the Russo-German circles this was a subject which 
interested every one, and when the conversation natu- 
rally turned upon this topic, it really became a little 
more lively. Madame Rajevsky, herself a German, 
remarked that one of the advantages of Protestantism 
was that the Gospels were more read 

*' Is the gospel written for women of the world ? ** 
asked Dostojevsky suddenly, who hitherto had preserved 
an obstinate silence. " In one place it is written, * In 
the beginning God made male and female ' ; and in 
another place, *Aman shall leave his father and mother, 
and cleave unto his wife/ This is what Christ says of 
marriage. But what is to be said of those mothers 


whose only thought is to get their daughters married 
as advantageously as possible ? " 

Dostojevsky had spoken with marked emphasis. 
According to his wont when he was excited, he 
crouched his whole frame together, and, as it were, 
shot out his sentences. The words had an indescrib- 
able effect. All the well-bred Germans stared at him, 
struck dumb and frightened. Only after a few seconds 
they were struck with the impropriety of his words, 
and all began talking at once to obliterate the impres- 

Dostojevsky darted looks of hatred and dislike at 
them, and withdrew into his corner and did not speak 
again during the whole evening. 

When he next appeared at the Rajevskys', Madame 
Rajevsky behaved very coolly to him to show she was 
hurt. But with her extreme goodness and gentleness 
she could not long be angry with any one, least of all 
with such a man as Dostojevsky. So they were soon 
friends again, and everything was on its usual footing. 

But the relationship between Anyuta and Dosto- 
jevsky was quite altered after the party. It passed, 
as it were, into a new stage. Anyuta no longer let 
herself be impressed by him, but seemed to enjoy 
being particularly contrary with him, worrying him at 
every turn. He, on his side, showed himself irritable 
and quarrelsome with her, began to require an account 
from her as to how she passed the day when he was 
not with her, and showed a dislike for any one she 
seemed to like. His visits were none the less constant ; 
on the contrary, he came oftener and stayed longer 


than usual, though he quarrelled nearly all the time 
with Anyuta. 

At the beginning of the acquaintance she had been 
ready to give up all pleasures and parties on the days 
when she expected Dostojevsky, and when he was in 
the room she thought of no one else. But now ail 
was changed. If he came and there were other guests, 
she calmly entertained them ; and if she happened to 
be invited elsewhere on the evenings Dostojevsky had 
promised to come, she wrote and excused herself to 
him. The next day Dostojevsky used generally to 
come in a very bad temper. Anyuta seemed as if she 
did not notice his dejection, but took her work and 
began to sew. 

This annoyed Dostojevsky still more. He sat in a 
comer and was silent. Anyuta was also silent. 

" Put down your sewing,*' he said at last, as he 
could no longer bear it, and took her work from 

Anyuta resignedly folded her hands, but did not 

" Where were you yesterday ? " asked Dostojevsky, 

" At a ball," answered Anyuta, indifferently. 

" And danced ? " 

" Naturally." 

" With your cousin ? " 

"With him and with others." 

" And that pleases you ? " asked Dostojevsky, con- 
tinuing his catechism. 

Anyuta shrugged her shoulders. " Yes, of course, 



for lack of anything better," she answered, and took 
up her work again. 

Dostojevsky was silent for a moment. 

** You are a light-minded, thoughtless doll — that is 
the truth," he would at last exclaim. 

This was now their usual style of conversation, while 
the understanding between Anyuta and him became 
worse and worse. His friendship with the fourteen-year- 
old Tanja grew. She became each day more charmed 
with him and confided in him blindly. He naturally 
noticed her boundless worship and admiration, and was 
pleased with it. He was for ever holding Tanja up to 
her sister as an example. 

When sometimes he uttered a deep thought, or made 
a paradoxical remark full of genius, or combated the 
whole accepted system of morals, Anyuta pretended not 
to understand him. While Tanja's eyes danced with 
delight, her sister answered him in order to irritate him 
with some stupid, trite truism. 

"You have a dull and feeble mind/' exclaimed 
Dostojevsky. **Look at your sister. She is hardly 
more than a child. She understands me. It is she who 
has cleverness and insight." 

Tanja always blushed with pleasure, and if it had 
been necessary she would have let herself be cut in 
pieces for him. 

And truly, however wonderful it may seem, the 
fourteen-year-old Tanja did understand him. She felt 
that his heart was fall of tenderness and warm feelings. 
She honoured him, not for his genius only, but for the 
sufferings he had gone through. In consequence of 


her lonely childhood, her humility, and her conscious- 
ness that her family loved her less than the others, her 
inner world was far deeper and more developed than 
that of other girls of her age. From her earliest years 
she had felt the need of a strong, exclusive affection, 
and with the intensity which formed the principal 
feature of her character, she concentrated all her 
thoughts, all her energies, in a rapturous worship of 
this highly-strung, gifted man. 

She thought constantly of Dostojevsky, and when 
she was alone repeated in her thoughts all he had 
said during the last conversation, pondering deeply on 
now one, now another of his words, and trying to 
understand and develop the thoughts he threw out. 
It was just the originality of his thoughts, the fecun- 
dity of the new ideas which he brought to her, that 
thus captivated her. It happened also that she often 
gave way to the most fantastic dreams about Dosto- 
jevsky, never with regard to the future but always 
about his past history. For example, she dreamed 
for hours together that she was with Dostojevsky in 
prison. She filled up and completed in fancy many 
episodes of his life which he had only touched upon, 
and lived through them herself in thought with him. 
If Dostojevsky could have gazed into Tanja's heart, 
he certainly would have been troubled could he have 
seen what he had done. But it was just the mis- 
fortune of the so-called " awkward age " in which 
Tanja was that the feelings are almost as deep as 
those of grown-up people, and yet express themselves 
in a childish, laughable way, so that it is difficult for a 


grown-up person to guess what is passing in the mind 
of a fourteen-year-old girl. 

In the depths of her heart Tanja was very glad that 
Dostojevsky no longer cared as much for Anyuta as in 
the beginning of their acquaintance. She was ashamed of 
the feeling, and considered it a kind of treachery to her 
sister. Without being willing to admit it to herself, 
she sought to enter into a compromise with her con- 
science and to atone for her secret sin by special afFec- 
tionateness and dutifulness, but her consciousness of 
sin did not prevent her involuntarily rejoicing when 
Anyuta and Dostojevsky quarrelled. 

Dostojevsky called Tanja his little friend, and she 
thought in her innocence that she was dearer to him 
than her elder sister, and understood him better. He 
even praised her appearance to Anyuta. 

" You fancy," he said to the latter, " that you are 
beautiful ; but your little sister will in time be more 
beautiful than you. Her face is much more expressive, 
and she has regular gipsy eyes. You are only a rather 
pretty little German, that is all." 

Anyuta smiled disdainfully. Tanja, on the contrary, 
drank in with rapture this praise of her beauty, which 
she had never heard before. 

" But is it really true ? " she asked herself, anxiously ; 
and she began to be full of grave fears lest her sister 
should be injured by the preference he showed her. 

Tanja was very anxious to know what JAnyuta her- 
self thought of it, and if it was true that she would be 
beautiful when she grew up. This last^question was of 
special interest to her. In St. Petersburg both the 


sisters slept in the same room, and at night, when they 
were undressing, they had their most confidential chats. 
Anyuta stood as usual before her big looking-glassi 
and shook out her long fair hair, which at night she 
plaited in two long plaits. This occupation took time, 
for her hair was unusually long and silky, and she drew 
the comb gently and carefully through it. Tanja sat 
on her bed already imdressed, with her hands clasped 
round her knees, thinking how she should begin the 
conversation which was so much in her mind. 

"What silly things Dostojevsky said to-day," she 
began at last, trying to appear as indifferent as possible. 

" Which things ? " said Anyuta, for she had evidently 
quite forgotten what seemed to Tanja such an im- 
portant conversation. 

" Why, that I had gipsy eyes, and should be hand- 
some some day," said Tanja, and felt herself blushing 
red up to her ears. 

Anyuta let her hands which held the comb sink, and 
turned her head with a graceful movement towards 
her sister. 

*^ Tou fency Dostojevsky thinks you pretty, prettier 
than I am ? " she asked, looking at Tanja with a sly, 
enigmatical look. 

This crafty smile, those green, laughing eyes, and the 
fair, loose, flowing hair made her look like a regular 
water-nymph. In the big mirror on the wall close by 
the bed, Tanja saw her own little dark face, and com- 
pared it with her sister's. It would be wrong to say 
that the comparison pleased her, but her sister's self- 
satisfied tone irritated her, and she would not give in. 


" Tastes difFer ! ** she exclaimed, hotly. 

" Yes, tastes differ strangely ! " remarked Anyuta, 
:almly continiung to comb her h^r. 

Tanja hid her face in the pillows, and me(Utated 
Dver the matter even long after the lights were put out. 

" Can Dostojevsky really have such bad taste as to 
think I am prettier than Anyuta ? " she wondered, 
mechanically ; and, after her childish fashion, she 
prayed in thought, " O God, let all the world be in 
love with Anyuta, but let Dostojevsky, at all events, 
think me the most beautiful." 

But Tanja*s illusions on this point were soon to have 
a fatal blow. 

Among the social talents which Dostojevsky encour- 
aged Tanja to improve was music. She had learned to 
play the piano till then, much like other girls, without 
any special liking or dislike for it. She had only a 
pretty fair ear for music, but from her fifth year she 
had been forced to play scales and exercises for an hour 
and a half every day ; so that by the time she was 
fourteen she had a good deal of execution, a certain 
amount of aplomb^ and could read music pretty well. 

Once, at the commencement of their acquaintance, 
she happened to play Dostojevsky a piece of music 
which she managed fairly well — variations on a popular 
Rus^an air. He was not musical. He was one of 
those people whose enjoyment of music depends entirely 
on subjective circumstances and on the humour of the 
moment. Sometimes the most exquisite artistic play- 
ing would only make him yawn ; at other times he 
would be moved to tears by a street organ. 


On the occasion in question, while Tanja was play- 
ing Dostojevsky happened to be in a susceptible mood. 
He therefore happened to be delighted with her play- 
ing, and, as was his wont with her, gave her exaggerated 
praise — she had so much talent, and feeling, and God 
knows what all ! 

It will be easily understood that Tanja had from 
that day a perfect passion for music She asked her 
mother to let her have lessons from a clever teacher, 
and during the whole time of their stay in St. Peters- 
burg she spent every spare moment at the piano, so 
that in three months she really made much progress. 

She had prepared a great surprise for Dostojevsky. 
He had once in her presence chanced to say that of all 
music, he loved best the Sontapath^tique of Beethoven, 
and that it always awoke in him a world of forgotten 
feelings. Notwithstanding that the piece surpassed in 
difficulty any which Tanja had yet played, she decided 
to learn this, cost what it might ; and after much 
trouble and effort, she had really managed to play it 
just tolerably. Now she only waited a suitable occa- 
sion on which to please Dostojevsky with it. And this 
opportunity soon offered itself. 

The Rajevskys were leaving St. Petersburg in five or 
six days. Madame Rajevsky and all her aunts were 
invited to a big dinner at an ambassador's who was an 
old friend of her family. Anyuta had already wearied 
of dinners and parties, and feigned a headache, so that 
both sisters were alone together. Dostojevsky came 
the same evening. 

The coming journey, the consciousness that none of 


the elders were at home, and that such an evening 
would never come again, made both girls feel happy 
and in good spirits. Dostojevsky was also strange and 
nervous, but not irritable, as he had often been lately, 
but very gentle and friendly. 

Now was the moment to play his favourite piece 
to him. Tanja delighted herself with the pleasure it 
would be to him. 

She began to play. The difficult piece required her 
attention to every note. The fear of playing a false 
note so entirely took up her attention, that she gave no 
notice to what was going on around her. When she 
finished, in the self-satisfied consciousness that she had 
done it admirably, she sat there with weary fingers, but 
still so excited by the music and the pleasant emotion 
which always follows a well-done piece of work, and 
awaited the well-earned applause. But all was silent 
round her. Tanja looked round. There was no one 
in the room ! 

She was wounded to the heart. Still, with no definite 
suspicion, but with a suffocating feeling of coming mis- 
fortune, she went into the next room. That also was 
empty. Lastly, she lifted the curtain which hung 
before the opening into the little corner room, and 
there she perceived Fedor Dostojevsky and Anyuta — 
and she could not believe her eyes. 

They sat near one another on the little sofa. The 
room was dimly lit by a lamp with a large shade, whose 
shadow fell on her sister so that Tanja could not dis- 
tinguish her expression. But Dostojevsky's face she 
saw clearly. It was pale and excited ; he held Anyuta's 


hand in his while he leant toward her and spoke to 
her in pasaonate whispers, whidi Tanja knew so wdi 
and loved so dearly. 

" My darling Anna Ivanovna, don't you understand 
that I loved you from the first moment I saw you ! 
Even before, when I read your letter, I had a pre- 
sentiment of it. And it is not merely as a friend I 
love you, but passionately, with my whole bring." 

Tanja's head swam. A feeling of bitter loneliness 
and of treachery seized her. The blood seemed to rush 
to her heart, and to rush in fiery flames to her head 
She dropped the curtain and rushed out of the room. 
She heard a chair fall which she had knocked down. 
" Are you there, Tanja ? " cried her sister's frightened 
voice. But she answered not nor stopped till she had 
reached her bedroom, in the other part of the house, 
at the end of a long corridor. When she got there, 
she hastened at once to undress, without a light. 
Pulling off her dress and petticoats, she threw herself, 
half-undressed, on her bed, and hid herself under the 
sheets. At this moment her only thought was one of 
fear that her sister might come and drag her back to 
the drawing-room. How could she see them ? 

A feeling she had never before experienced of 
bitterness, of injury and shame, and especially of shame 
and injury, filled her heart. Till now she had not, 
in her inmost thoughts, been aware of her feeling for 
Dostojevsky, or known that she was in love with 

Even at fourteen she had already heard and read 
much of love ; but it never occurred to her that to be 

iwB^ »^— ^^-wiiw m ■■ . J imm mt^- i m A .^wp ■ '^mm^mtmm^^mmtf^^^'^mmt 


in love with people was anything which happened in 
real life, but only in novels. As far as Dostojevsky 
was concerned, all she desired was that all her life 
should pass like these three months. 

** And now it is all over — ^all over ! " she repeated, 
in distress ; and now for the first time all was irrevo- 
cably lost, she saw for the first time how happy she 
had been during her whole time — yesterday — even to- 
day — even a few minutes ago — and now, oh, now ! " 

What it was that was over, what it was that was 
changed, she did not clearly know. She only knew 
that all of a sudden for her life was no longer worth 

*' And how they must laugh at me ! Why did he 
cheat me so, and hide the truth from me ? " she said, 
reproachfully, feeling sore at their betrayal of her. 
** Well, yes, he loves her, and may marry her for all I 
care,** she said a moment afterwards ; but the tears con- 
tinued all the same to flow, and she felt a bitter pain in 
her heart. 

Time passed. Tanja began to long for her sister to 
come and look for her. She was angry with her for 
not coming. 

** They don't trouble about me — no, not if I lay here 
and die ! Ah, if I could only die ! " 

And she felt all of a sudden so unspeakably sinful, 
that the tears ran over her face. 

" What were they doing now ? How happy they 
must be ! " she thought ; and with this thought she 
suddenly longed to jump in on them, and to fling their 
treachery in their faces. She jumped out of bed and 


fumbled about with her hands, which trembled with 
emotion, to find a nutch in order to light a candle and 
dress. She could not find a match, and as she had thrown 
her clothes all over the place, she could not find them 
in the dark. She was ashamed to call the servant. So 
she threw herself on the bed, and broke out sobbing, 
finding herself helpless and hopeless. 

The first tears of an organism unaccustomed to 
suffering are soon dried. The hasty attack of despair 
was followed by a dull numbness. 

Not a sound from the reception-room penetrated 
Tanja's room; but from the neighbouring kitchen Tanja 
heard how the servants were getting ready to eat their 
evening meal. There was a clatter of knives and 
plates, and the servants laughing and talking. All 
were happy, all were merry, only she was alone. . . . 

At last, after a perfect eternity, as it seemed to 
Tanja, she heard a hasty ringing. It was her mother 
and aunts returning from dinner. She heard the ser- 
vant's heavy step, as he ran to open the door ; after- 
wards there were the sounds of high-pitched, merry 
voices, as usual on a return from a party. 

" Dostojevsky has not gone yet. Will Anyuta tell 
mother to-night of what has happened, or will she wait 
till to-morrow ? " wondered Tanja. Now she dis- 
tinguished his voice among the others. He took 
leave — had hastened off; Tanja's strained ears could 
even hear him pulling on his galoshes. Then the 
vestibule door shut, and shortly after Anyuta's elastic 
step was heard in the corridor. She opened the door, 
and a bright ray of light fell right on Tanja's face. 


To her tear-swollen eyes the light seemed like an 
insult, and was unbearably strong. A feeling of uncon- 
trollable enmity rose in her throat against her sister. 

" The horror ! she is triumphant,'* she thought 
bitterly, and, turning towards the wall, pretended to 

Without making any haste Anyuta put down the 
light on the table, and went up to her sister's bed, 
where she stood for a moment silent. Tanja lay im- 
movable, holding back her breath. 

**I sec you are not sleeping," at last exclaimed 

Tanja remained silent. 

" Well, if you like to play at pretending — all right. 
All the worse for you. You sha'n't hear anything," 
exclaimed the elder sister, and began to undress herself 
as though nothing had happened. 

That night Tanja had a wonderful dream. Often in 
later life when she had had great sorrow, she had at 
night such delicious, lovely dreams. But how painful it 
is to rouse oneself from them. The dream pictures have 
not quite vanished. Some hours of heavy sleep has 
chased the weariness of the previous day's heavy sor- 
row, and only left behind a pleasant bodily weariness ; 
a feeling of physical comfort and of restored peace. 
Suddenly beat, beat, as of a hammer in the brain, comes 
the memory of the terrible, irrevocable events which 
happened yesterday, and one becomes painfully conscious 
that one must go back to life and suffering. 

Life is so sad here, and all kinds of sufferings are so 
hard to bear. How heavy are those first paroxysms of 


despair when the whole being revolts against sorrow 
without giving way, though as yet it cannot com- 
prehend the whole depth of its loss. Even heavier are 
the long days which follow, when the tears are shed 
and the stirred feelings hud, and when one can no 
longer knock one's head agdnst a wall, but realises at 
last how inward sorrow, however slowly and unnoticed 
by others, lays everything low in dust and nuns. 

But heaviest and worst of all burdens and difficulties 
is the first awakening to sad reality after a short period 
of unconsciousness. Tanja spent the next day in 
feverish expectation. 

** What would happen ? " She asked her sister no 
question ; she felt, though in a less degree inimical 
towards her, as she had felt on the previous evening, 
and avoided her on every pretext. Seeing Tanja so 
miserable, Anyuta tried to go and pet her, but Tanja 
shook her off in an access of rage. Anjnita was 
naturally hurt, and left Tanja to her own sorrowful 
reflections. Tanja expected so confidently that Dosto- 
jevsky would come that day, and that something 
terrible would happen ; but no Dostojevsky appeared. 
They sat down to dinner, and he did not show himself 
even then. Tanja knew they would go to the concert 
in the evening. 

Some time passed and he did not come. Her 
heart grew light, and a faint, undefined hope lit up her 
heart. Suddenly it struck her, " Of course Anyuta will 
refuse to go to the concert, and will stay at home, and 
Dostojevsky will come to her while she is alone." 

Her heart contracted with jealousy at the thought. 


But Anyuta did not refuse the concert, but was gay 
and talkative the whole evening* 

When both the sisters were going to bed, and 
Anyuta was just ready to put out the light, Tanja 
could no longer bear it, but looked at her sister 

" When do you expect Fedor Dostojevsky ? *' 

Anyuta smiled. " You seemed not to want to know. 
You would not talk to me, and behaved very badly." 

Her tone was so soft and kindly that Tanja thawed, 
and began secretly to love her. 

" How can he help being in love with her, when she 
is so charming and I such a miserable wretch ? " she 
thought, in a sudden bout of self>depreciation. 

She crept over into her sister's bed, nestled up to her, 
and burst out weeping. 

Anyuta patted her head. " Be quiet, you simpleton ! 
Such a simple little girl ! '* she repeated, petting her. 
Suddenly she could control herself no longer, and broke 
out in an almost uncontrollable laugh. ** So then she 
fancied she must fall in love, and with whom ? — a man 
three times as old as she is ! " 

These words and that laugh woke in Tanja a mad* 
ness which filled all her being. 

" And you do not love him ? " she asked, whispering, 
and burning with excitement. 

Anyuta pondered a moment. " You see," she began, 
evidently making an effort and trying to choose her 
words, " I, of course, am naturally very fond of him, 
and respect him very highly. He is so good, so 
original^ so inspired ! '* — she warmed up in her expres- 


sions. Tanja's heart grew sick. " But how shall I 
explain it ? I love him, but not as he — that is to say, 
I don't love him as 1 would love the man I would 
marry," and she stopped suddenly. 

Oh, how bright Tanja's spirit became ! She turned 
over to her sister and kissed her neck and hands. 
Anyuta, however, went on : 

** Do you see, I was rather surprised when I found I 
did not care for him. He is so good and noble, I 
thought at first I should really fall in love with him. 
But I am not at all the wife he wants. His wife must 
belong to him out and out, devote herself absolutely to 
him, give her whole life up to him, think of him and 
him only. But that I cannot do. I must be true to 
myself. Besides, he is so sensitive, so exigeant. He 
seems to take me prisoner, and to absorb me into 
himself. In his presence I am never myself" 

Anyuta said all this, apparently in response to her 
sister, but really to clear the matter in her own mind. 
Tanja appeared as though she understood and sym- 
pathised with her, but she thought to herself : 

" Oh, God ! What bliss it would be to be thus 
always with him, and entirely subordinate to him ! 
How can Anyuta turn away from such happiness ^ " 

However, Tanja, when she fell asleep that night, 
somehow or other felt far less miserable than on the 
preceding evening. 

The day of the Rajevskys' departure was now near 
at hand . Dostojevsky came once again to say farewell. 
He did not stay long, but his behaviour to Anyuta was 
kindly and natural, and they promised to write to each 

■IC^ia««*<M> ■fi ■ i^^xw^^la 


other. He took a very tender farewell of Tanja, kissed 
her at parting, but certainly had not the remotest idea 
of what kind of feeling she had for him, or how much 
suffering he had caused her. 

Some six months later Anyuta received a letter from 
him, in which he told her he had met a charming yoimg 
girl whom he loved, and who had promised to marry 
him. This young girl was Anna Grigorjevna, his 
second wife. " If any one had told me this six months 
ago, I would have given my word of honour that I did 
not believe him," remarked Dostojevsky naively at the 
end of his letter. 

Tanja's heart-sore soon healed. During the few 
days they still remained at St. Petersburg she still felt 
miserable, and went about more sadly and more quietly 
than usual. But the journey removed the last trace of 
the past from her mind. 

It was April when the Rajevskys left, and in St. 
Petersburg it was still winter, cold and shivering. But 
in the Vitebsk government they unexpectedly met 
spring — the Russian irresistible spring, which comes 
suddenly in one night and draws almost everything to 
it, and, like an attack of fever, affnscts earth and man 
and beast. Birches on the roadside were clad in a 
thick green down ; the air was oppressive with resinous 
odours from the young leaf-buds, so that Anyuta and 
Tanja were giddy and intoxicated with it. They 
jumped out of the carriage at every station, and 
gathered, in the quarter of an hour's rest, handfuls of 
snowdrops, spring hyacinths, and violets, which grew, 
as it were, before their eyes out of the earth. Brooks 


and streams overflowed their beds and formed great 
lakes, the earth thawed and the mud was bottomless. 

On the great highway it did not matter ; but when 
they got to the town they had to leave the big travel- 
ling carriage at the post station, and hire a pair of 
miserable little vehicles instead. 

Madame Rajevsky and the coachman lamented over 
it in great anadety. " However shall we get there ? " 
Madame Rajevsky was really afraid of having vexed 
her husband, by having remained so long in St. Peters- 
burg. However, notwithstancKng all lamentations and 
sighs, all went well. 

Tanja often remembered that journey afterwards, 
how late one night they went through the great forest. 
Neither she nor her sister slept ; they sat silent, living 
through in thought again all the different impressions 
of the last three months, and enjoyed inhaling the soft 
spring scents which filled the air. 

It got darker and darker. On account of . the bad 
roads they drove slowly. The postboy tried to sleep 
on the coach-box, and no longer called to his animals. 
Nothing was to be heard but the splashing of the 
horses' hoofs in the mud, and faint, uneven sounds of 
the horses' bells. The wood spread out on both sides 
— dark, mysterious, and impenetrable. Suddenly, as 
they came out into an open space, the moon shone from 
behind the trees and gilded everything with a shimmer- 
ing glory so clear and surprising that one felt almost 

After the last conversation in St. Petersburg both 
sisters had avoided speaking of the subject, and there 


was a kind of reticence between them as though there 
was something constantly dividing them. 

But now there was a sort of silent reconciliation 
between the two, and they embraced each other 
lovingly. Both felt that nothing really divided them, 
but that they were both dearer to each other than ever. 

They were returning to Palibino, where the grey 
monotonous life awwted them, but in this moment they 
knew that this could not last long, but that soon a 
change must come into their lives. It appeared to 
them as if a corner of the curtain which hid the future 
was lifted for them, and they had a vivid impression of 
something new, great, and unexpected awaiting them. 
A feeling of boundless, inexplicable gladness seized 
them. Ah ! 



THE life of a woman by a woman," might be the sub- 
title of the book now presented for the first time to the 
British public ; and the adjectives ^^ eminent and remarkable ** 
might with justice be added to both nouns. 

For Anna Carlotta Leffler, the author of " Sonya Kovalev- 
sky,** was no less gifted than the subject of the biography, and 
it is for this reason that, by way of introduction, we here give 
a sketch of her life founded on the following works : an 
inedited autobiography, kindly lent by the Duke of Cajanello, 
her second husband ; a biography in the Swedish language, by 
Ellen Key, published by A. Bonnier, Stockholm ; an article in 
the f^e Contemporaine^ entitled ** Femmes du Nord,** by Count 
Prozor ; a biography, by Gegjerstam, in " Ord 6 Bild " j a 
biographical article by the Duchess of Andria. 

Anna Carlotta was the only daughter of J. A. Leffler, a 
Swedish rector, and was born on October i, 1849. From 
her mother, the daughter of a minister named Mittag, she 
inherited the literary tendencies which showed themselves so 

' Since this biographical note was written, we have become 
acquainted with a biography of Anna Carlotta Leffler written 
by Madame Laura Marholm in her ** Buch der Frauen," which 
contains many erroneous facts and data, and judgments which 
prove that the writer has never really known Anna Carlotta 
Leffler, but has gathered her information from incorrect sources. 



early, that, when only six years old, she dictated a little tale to 
her brother Fritz, which the lad wrote down. 

The little girl grew up in an atmosphere of tender aflFection, 
equally beloved by her parents and by her three brothers : 
Gosta Mittag-Leffler, who afterwards became an eminent 
mathematical professor in his own country, and also obtained 
a doctor's degree at Oxford ; Arthur, who became an architect, 
and Fritz. 

The latter was nearest to her in age, was her constant 
playfellow, in whose company she enjoyed summer trips to 
Foglelos on the Vettern lake, which were repeated yearly up 
to 1858, and looked forward to by the children, during the 
long winters spent in Stockholm, with longing and delight. 

During these sojourns in the beautiful scenery of Vettern 
Lake, Anna Carlotta imbibed the love of Sweden, its lakes 
and mountains, which remained true and strong even when she 
was transplanted to the fairer regions of the South. 

Her intimate companionship with her brothers, and participa- 
tion in their studies, were of great influence on Anna Carlotta's 
character. She became a frank intrepid girl, free fh)m all 
feminine caprice, capable of simple, loyal friendship, looking at 
life with a wider charity. 

As a young girl, she was of a placid and amiable disposition, 
and became a favourite with all the pupils of the Wallinska 
school which she attended for some years. Her masters 
praised her for several compositions in Swedish, but offended 
her by hinting that her brothers must have helped her. Even 
during her school years she indulged in writing fiction, and 
the strong religious impression she received at her confirmation 
found expression in a never-published romance, which she was 
busy writing from her fifteenth to her seventeenth year. 

Very wisely her brothers would not allow her to publish her 
first attempts ; they rather encouraged her to study earnestly 
the language, history, and literature of her native land, and 
thus saved her from the peril of dilettantism. But both they 


and her parents never denied her that admiring sympathy 
which is so welcome to all young writers. 

In autumn 1869, under the pseudonym of ^^Carlot," she 
published a collection of tales entitled ^^ By Chance,** which 
were well received by the public. In 1872 she married, under 
peculiar circumstances, Mr. G. Edgren, with whom she lived 
like an affectionate and tenderly-loved sister. She reserved full 
liberty to dedicate herself to a literary life, but never neglected 
the duties of the mistress of a household. 

The excellent financial conditions in which she lived, and 
the high position she held, not only enabled her to pursue the 
vocation to which she felt herself called, but also gave her 
abundant opportunity of frequenting society, without, however, 
wasting her strength on mere frivolities. 

She grew in experience, her imagination became more 
fecund, and her literary development made great progress. 
Yet some deeper aspirations of her soul remained unsatisfied, 
and the traces of this want may be found in the thirst for 
independence, for a personal life freer from conventionality, 
depicted in her drama "The Actress," and in "Elfvan," now 
that their true authorship is known. But at the time of their 
appearance this of course was unnoticed except by her intimate 

•*The Actress" was represented on the stage in 1873; 
"Henpecked" and "The Curate" in 1876; "Elfvan" in 

"The Actress," though it was played at the Stockholm 
Theatre during a whole winter, was never suspected to be 
the work of a woman, and no one would have believed it 
possible that a girl only twenty-three years of age, who had 
never been in a theatre above two or three times in her life, 
could have produced such a drama. Her parents, during their 
daughter's early youth, considered theatre-going a luxury, and 
her own religious convictions forbade her to indulge in such 
a pleasure often. 



In this first work Anna Carlotta expressed the idea which 
dominated her life ; an idea set forth by her long before Ibsen 
wrote ^ The Doll's House " ; it was that love, in a woman, must 
be subordinated to duty, not in the limited sense of conjugal 
duty, but in the wide sense of duty to oneself and to mankind. 

Contemporaneously with her dramatic works, the young 
author wrote short stories, descriptions of travel, essays, &c. ; 
principally for the New Illustrated Journal^ of Stockholm. 

Her works had already excited attention when, in 1882, she 
first published a collection of tales under her own name. The 
book was entitled ^ From Life " (a title that was added to all 
her later works), and made an immense impression. 

At one stroke Anna Carlotta Leffler acquired an eminent 
place in northern literature, due, no doubt, partly to the fact 
that she had never habituated the public to associate her name 
with the immature literary attempts of a beginner. 

By translation into Danish, Russian, German, and other 
languages, her name became famous abroad as one of the best 
Swedish writers of the time. Many of her dramas were 
represented on different northern stages, and even in Germany. 

Not long ago, her comedy ^^ A Charity Fair," was translated 
into Italian. Benedetto Croce, a distinguished NeapoUtan 
critic, wrote an introduction to this publication. It is owing 
to the purely Swedish character of her first works- that the 
social life of Sweden began to excite interest in Europe. 

In 1883 the second volume of ^^From Life" was published. 
It was written in a freer manner, with fine sarcasm, and 
greater knowledge, but the public cried out against the 
tendency of some of the stories. " At Strife with Society," 
and ^^ Aurora Bunge," the two most full of genius, were called 
'' scandalous." 

But the adverse critics laid down their arms on the appear- 
ance of the novel " Gustav the Pastor," which was rich in true 
Swedish humour. 

Anna Carlotta possessed a very sensitive literary conscience, 


and if she sometimes disobeyed its behests, it was only out of con- 
sideration for her family, who were wounded by the criticism 
to which she was exposed. But when she felt that the criticism 
was just, she was always modestly willing to revise her work. 

Gradually the young author grew more courageous in 
representing real life, and began to touch on the problems of 
modern life. 

But she never sympathised with ** party,** nor became the 
centre of a fimatic literary circle such as she has been falsely 
represented to have been. As her literary works became more 
important, and her fiime increased, criticism grew more 
virulent, and even among her greatest admirers discussion arose 
as to her real meaning. Some said that her entire personality 
was to be found in her writings, while the fact is, that those 
produced later, and the change in her own being, have shown 
the error of this opinion. Others, and they were the most 
numerous, saw in all her novels and romances nothing but a 
struggle for the emancipation of woman, thus trying to limit 
within the narrow sphere of a single aim the large and liberal 
ideas of a writer, who, though displaying quite a special in- 
dividuality, was thoroughly objective. 

The most common opinion was indeed that Anna Carlotta 
Leffler fought for the emancipation of woman with more 
courage and energy than any other writer, and this opinion 
was confirmed by the fact that around her gathered all the 
pioneers of the new school, all the most illustrious champions 
of the woman question, and precisely at that epoch the 
emancipation of woman was passionately discussed in Sweden. 
Anna Carlotta's house was the rendezvous for all the adherents 
of the new literature, who rendered her homage, not only and 
not so much as a writer, but principally as a woman who had 
raised her voice, and obtained a hearing among the most 
fiunous men in Sweden. She was certainly impelled towards 
the promulgators of the rights of woman by her lively sympathy 
with the cause in its moral and social aspects, but she kept 


herself free from any party spirit, and her literary sphere 
belonged to a larger and more serene field of thought. 

But there was another thing that seemed to prove those to 
be right who, at all costs, sought to imprison Anna Carlotta 
within the strict limits of the woman question, and this was 
her manner of regarding and understanding love in the abstract, 
a manner to which she was led by all the woman movement. 

Love, at this time, seemed to her only an episode of life, not 
life's essence, or, so to speak, the life of life. Her works seemed 
to be wanting in something indefinable, and this something 
was the intimate and complete conception of the sentiment 
only obtained by the absolute abandonment of the soul to love. 
In the story "Doubt," and another one, "At Strife with 
Society," very much is said, and well said, about love j but love 
itself is only seen by glimpses, as if the author deliberately 
wanted to deny to her own soul the knowledge of an invading 
power that she almost feared. And, in fact, it was only later 
in life that she possessed the entire and perfect knowledge ot 
the power of love. 

The famous representatives of Northern literature, who met 
at Anna Carlotta's house to discuss all things under the sun, 
were put at their ease by the sympathising amiability of their 
hostess, who gave the impress of her personality to the con- 
versation, yet was as ready to listen as to speak. She often 
displayed, however, a coldness and pride of manner due to a 
shyness which she never entirely overcame, but these soon 
vanished on more intimate acquaintance. 

In 1884 the young writer began to travel, taking with her 
a dear friend, Julia Kjellberg, now Madame von Vollmar. 
She obtained many introductions to different circles in foreign 
lands, partly through Madame Sonya Kovalevsky, who had 
come to Stockholm in 1883, and with whom she had become 
most intimate. 

Thus Anna Carlotta became acquainted, especially in 
England, with some of the most noted personages, and 
acquired new ideas. 


The new impulse given to her literary talent is shown in 
ler description of travel in "From Modern London'*; in 
Jie above-mentioned drama, "A Charity Fair," and in "True 
Women," published in English by S. French, London. 

This drama, which seemed to have been written in favour 
>f the emancipation of married women, was really the out- 
:ome of the author's pity for the domestic troubles of one very 
iear to her. After its publication many regarded her as a 
lespiser of men, an amazon thirsting for battle ; but they would 
lave become aware of their mistake had they seen the tears in 
:he author's eyes when she received the thanks of her friend 
br her expressions of noble indignation, a feeling which was a 
brce in her writings, and was not the cold indignation proper 
:o persons who only regard fictitious life from within their 
bur walls, but the warm resentment against the wrongs of 
ictual sufferers. 

In 1866 our author published a romance entitled " A 
>ummer Story," which has quite lately been translated and 
published in German, and which, more than any other of her 
productions, contains the personal feelings of the writer. 

In this tale love already begins to appear as an actual force 
n human existence, as a thing that has tyrannous rights able 
:o balance all other intellectual exigencies. Here still these 
ntellectual exigencies triumph, and love is enslaved, but in all 
he life of "Ulla,"the heroine of the romance, there is a lament 
ind homesickness for the very love which she would conquer 
ind trample upon, but which destroys the balance of her 
existence, and condemns her to a continual and sterile struggle 
between her old self and the new spirit born within her, 
)ecause the latter is not so fully incorporated with love as to 
;ive it the victory over the former state of feeling. This 
tory shows that a woman who sacrifices love to personal 
lignity — a sacrifice of which the writer nevertheless approves 
—can never be happy. 

In the biography of Sonya Kovalevsky, now before the 


reader, Anna Carlotta Leffler relates the circumstances of her 
intimacy with that gifted woman, and therefore we need not 
touch on the subject here. 

At the beginning of 1888 she went to Africa with her 
brother. Professor Mittag-Leffler, and his wife, Signe, to attend 
the Mathematical Congress in Algiers. During this journey, 
while returning through Italy, she met, for the first time, with 
a mathematician, professor at the Naples University, who had 
long been in correspondence with her brother. 

This was Signor Pasquale del Pezzo, the Duke of Cajanello. 
Their acquaintance ripened into a true and tender love, which, 
after the divorce of Anna Carlotta, and the overcoming of 
many difficulties made by the Duke's family, who objected to 
his fiiture wife as a Protestant, was finally crowned by a happy 
marriage, which was celebrated in Rome, in May, 1890. 

Previously to this, in 1889, Anna Carlotta published a new 
collection of tales also under the common title of " From Life." 

The Duke and Duchess of Cajanello, after their marriage, 
spent a large portion of the year at Djursholm, near Stockholm. 

The now happy woman shortly published a romance, 
" Womanliness and Erotics,** inspired by the new sentiments 
and sensations which crowded upon her, and also a comedy 
called « This Love ! ** 

This romance was much talked of, and was criticised with 
more than usual acrimony. The author herself considered 
it the most complete and vivid manifestation of her own 
personality. The first part had been written seven years 
previously, and, at one point of the heroine's destiny, there 
arose a question to which the writer at that time knew no 
answer. She felt that there was missing the real explanation 
of all the psychological evolutions in her heroine; that " Alie* 
was awaiting the full development of her personality from 
the love that must finally awaken and subjugate her. But 
how, and under what circumstances would Alie love? she ^who 
was so much convinced that the reality could never aiibrd her 


anything but delusions, that [she shrank back from all oppor- 
tunities of executing what she had dreamed of." 

The author herself did not yet know ; but then came that 
crisis in her own life which rejuvenised and transformed 
her, giving her the power to reply to the question that had 
arisen in the life of her heroine. Alie loves^ because Anna 
Carlotta at last understood what love was — the love that rids 
life of all disharmony and all hesitation, and, from the perfect 
balance and fusion of the feelings, evolves the still intact but 
renovated and completed individual. ^^ Womanliness and 
Erotics " indeed reveals the bliss derived by its author from 
an affection for the first time felt and requited. 

After this, the Duchess wrote a drama in three acts, entitled 
^ Domestic Happiness " ; some character sketches ; and a 
fantastic dramatic poem, "The Search after Truth," which, 
under the influence of the rich Southern imagination of her 
husband, displays a force of artistic representation not found in 
her early productions. 

When Sonya Kovalevsky died in 1891, Anna Carlotta for- 
sook all other work in order to write the biography of her 
friend. It was her own last work, and was generally con- 
sidered to be one of the most exact and perfect psychological 
studies to be found in contemporary literature, and, at the same 
time, a delightful and genial work of art. 

The newly married Duchess of Cajanello felt quite at home 
in Italy, and was never afflicted by homesickness. She was 
already perfectly acquainted with the Italian language, and 
surrounded herself with a select circle of scientific and literary 
men, old and new friends of her husband. 

One of those who frequented the Duke^s house in Naples, 
describes it as full of sunshine and happiness. The Duchess, 
tall and fair, had the charm of simple dignity, and at the same 
time the grace of cordiality. The Duke, on the other hand, 
had the ease and unconventionality of manner proper to a man 
of science, and one who had broken with the prejudices of his 
aristocratic ckiss. 


Much as Anna Carlotta had been beloved by her early friends 
in Sweden, she was now even more attractive in her new-found 

The bliss of the husband and wife was completed by the 
birth of a son in June, 1892, and the letters written by the 
young mother during the summer of that year are proof that 
she had attained a height of human felicity which almost made 
her tremble. And indeed the last years of her life were a 
luminous progress to ever intenser joys. First the expectation 
of maternity, then maternity itself, beautified and consecrated 
by the love which shone forth in her eyes and her smile ; by 
the complete happiness that caused her mature nature to bud 
and blossom anew, as if it had never before enjoyed a spring- 
time. With the cradle of her child close beside her, she wrote 
with ever-increasing delight, interrupting herself every now 
and then to attend to her infant, and again resuming her 
work without the least impatience. There also stood one 
who awaited the result of her work with intense sympathy, 
ready to hear her read the freshly written pages, which she 
communicated with the calmness induced by the certainty of 
being comprehended. She had trembled at all this happiness, 
and she was snatched away just as she had tasted its full sweetness. 

She had been in vilUggiatura on the island of Capri, had 
returned home and set her house in order for the winter, and 
was preparing for a long period of peace and quiet, during 
which she would devote herself to literature, and commence 
a new romance which she was meditating, to be entitled 
" Narrow Horizons." 

For the first time for many years she felt at perfect rest 
within and without, enriched by new experiences, viewing the 
things of life with clearer eyes, and able, as she remarked to a 
friend, " to write a great book on a broad basis." 

On Sunday, the i6th of October, she wrote a happy letter 
to her mother and brother, expressing her delight in her work, 
her hope for continued good health.